Travel Curious

For independent travelers who want to dig deeper

Butler Wash Ruins

The Butler Wash ruins sitting in multiple alcoves on a circular cliff face can be experienced either from above and at a distance via the overlook, or up close via the hiking trail that takes you into the ruins.

Butler Wash Ruins as seen from the overlook
Butler Wash ruins from the overlook
Butler Wash Ruins remains of a round kiva
Butler Wash wash trail

Butler Wash Ruins from the overlook

The trail is well-defined and easy, there are signs along the way identifying a few local plants and how they were used by the Indians. The trail ends at a fenced overlook at the canyon rim where you can look across to see the Butler Wash ruins in their individual alcoves.
There are four kivas, three are round Mesa Verde types the fourth is square, a type more commonly found in Arizona. The kivas are located toward the front of the largest cave with living and storage rooms visible behind them. 

Butler Wash Ruins via the wash trail

The little used trail takes you easily through the heavily vegetated wash to climb up to the ruins themselves for a good close-up look at them.


  • Dogs okay
  • A visit here would be ideal during the sunrise with the light head on to these ruins
Getting there
  • The Trailhead is about 10.5 miles west of Blanding on Highway 95.


Large paved lot with toilets
Ruins via the wash
On the side of the road near the entrance to the parking lot
37.523287, -109.633954
  • 1.0 mile total out and back to overlook
  • 0.8 miles total out and back to ruins via the wash trail


Hike on an easy-to-follow trail sometimes with rock cairns on slickrock 0.5 miles to the overlook, where an interpretive sign explains the site you see from across the rim of the canyon.

Butler Wash Ruins overlook trail with rock cairns marking the way

Interpretive signs along the path explain the local plants and trees

Interpretive signs explain the ruins

You get a nice view of the ruins in alcoves from the overlook

Looking at the structure in the back of one of the walled alcove openings

Another ruin visible from the overlook

Ruins via the wash
From the parking pullout walk up the small hill with the fence and the gate. Once through the fence immediately turn to your left and follow the fence line with the obvious trail.

The start of teh Butler Wash Ruins wash trail

Keep trying to follow the faint trail on the slick rock as it starts to head downhill toward the wash and along the rim of the canyon in the direction of the ruins (upstream). keep looking for a not-very-obvious path leading down into the wash which is about 10 feet below you. It is at ( 37.523183, -109.635573 ).

In the wash
In the wash

Once in the highly vegetated wash continue upstream trying to follow a faint pathway. Soon you will come to a Y in the wash where you could go left of right, you want to stay to the left. The right will dead-end quickly.
Continue upstream soon you will come to another Y where you could go left or right, instead look for the vertical dirt path heading uphill at this split. Climb the path.

Look for this hillside you will need to ascend

At the top, it’s relatively flat and then you need to do some scrambling up some slick rock. You will find a trail leading to the right on a ledge, the first ruin is right around the corner.

The first ruin in Butler Wash

Walking past the first ruin is a 2nd alcove with what looks like a pile of dried mud and some barely recognizable ruins, continue just a short distance and you will need to start climbing up to the level above you to see the rest of the ruins.

The second ruin

After gaining the ledges you will find an impressive ruin with a wall in the front and a square structure in the back that is in fantastic shape. Look at the footholds carved into the rock that the Indians use to get into it, these are quite interesting because you rarely see such things at ruin sites, it took a lot of time to make those foot holes. Look for the metates for grinding corn in front of the structure.

Butler Wash Ruin with moki holes
Ruin with moki holes carved in the rock

The last ruin is the largest by far and certainly the most impressive. On the left end on the back wall is some faint artwork. There are circular rooms (Kivas) and lots of smaller rooms. A spring was dripping from above in November.

Looking back over the ruins from the far end of the main alcove

One of the round kivas

The square kiva

Explore Nearby...


House on Fire Ruin

House on Fire Ruins in Mule Canyon South Fork

There are many ruins in the canyon, but House on Fire ruin is the most famous of them, getting its name from the effects that the sunlight has on the sandstone cliff of the overhang that it is built under

Road Canyon Fallen Roof Ruin 2

Fallen Roof Ruin in Road Canyon

Road Canyon contains many ruins, granaries, and kivas. “Fallen Roof Ruin” derives its name from the elaborate pattern created by the missing sandstone slabs of rock that fell out of the roof of the alcove in front of it.

Butler Wash Ruins 4

Butler Wash Ruins

Choose to view the ruins from an overlook or hike up the wash and explore the ruins close up

Lower Butler Wash Road - Hikes

Lower Butler Wash Road is a unique area of Comb Ridge, home to a dozen unmarked trailheads not published by the BLM or marked with signs. All are short hikes (1-3 miles round trip) that lead to amazing ancestral sites, caves and alcoves with 800-year-old ruins, petroglyphs, pottery shards and more.
Multi-colored hand prints on the back wall

Double Stack Ruin

See a higher and lower set of ruins with painted handprints, metates, rockart and impressive mud mortared rock walled structures still standing

Lower Butler Wash road monarch cave 3

Monarch Cave

Hidden up a side canyon of Comb Ridge is an impressive ruin complex with petroglyphs, pottery sherds, corn cobs, sharpening grooves, and grinding metates.

Butler Wash road wolfman rockart 13

Wolfman Panel

Hike to see multiple rock art panels with one with a unique wolfman like figure, across the canyon are ruins you can continue to

Lower Butler Wash Road Fishmouth Cave 5

Fishmouth Cave

A short easy hike to a large cave with handprints and metates, there are a number of smaller ruins to see along the trail.

Lower Butler Wash Road Split Level Ruin 8

Split Level Ruin

The hike to a ruin split over two ledges is filled with hundreds of pictographs, large rocks covered in metates, sharpening marks, pottery shards, and painted handprints

Goosenecks State Park ...

Scenic Drives...

Recapture Pocket_ 4

Recapture Pocket

This is a little visited but interesting location full of goblins and hoodoos contained in three main groups of formations relatively close to each other

Everything Else...

Newspaper Rock 2

Newspaper Rock

A famous rock panel carved with about 650 individual petroglyphs of abstract shapes and symbols to more recognizable human and animal figures

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Buy Framed Prints

Images on this website are available as framed prints to support running the website
Browse Prints For Sale


Featured Posts