Saturday, September 5, 2009


pictured: vandalized "Wolfman Petroglyphs"

This area held one of the greatest caches of artifacts in the southwestern United States. Alas, that brought pot hunters. Much of what was saved became (dis)located to museums. Astonishingly, there is still enough in situ that we can still inhale the spirit of the place. Due to the unprotected nature of this Bureau of Land Management land, I'm not going to tell exactly how to get to these places.
The Butler Wash area is very disorienting and rewarding. Here's what I recommend: Stay at the Recapture Lodge in historic Bluff, Utah. Make some friends there. You will be among people with outdoor interests and the owners are very knowledgeable. If they sense sincerity they may help you find these great sites.
It took me 3 tries to find the "Procession Panel"4*. It entails a 6.6 mile drive north up unimproved Butler Wash Rd. (San Juan Co. #262, impassable when wet), which is 4 miles west of town. Then turn 100 yards west to the trail head above Butler Wash. It's then a 1 1/4 mile hike each way to the petroglyph panel.
It took me several tries to find "Eagle's Nest" ruin. Wow, what a testament to paranoia and guts that is!
The hikes into the 2 "bowl" sites are as rewarding as the grand finales.
Although access trails are short to sites, the Butler Wash area is very dangerous. Orientation is difficult and it is very arid. No potable water is available. Be careful and be aware of precise landmarks.
This is a no-fee area unless you take a guide. Please consider a guide if you are not back country savvy. The problems are the "no trail" slickrock and many intersecting wrong turns in the wash. A guided San Juan River trip is the only way to take in the "Desecration Panel".
Monarch Ruins(4*)-Access to the trail 7.2 miles north of Rt. 163 on Butler Wash Rd.
Eagle's Nest Ruins(5*)-Access to the trail 8 miles N of 163 on BWR.
Wolfman Petroglyph Panel(4*)-Access to the trail 1 mile N of 163 on BWR.
Fishbowl Ruins(3*)-Access to the trail 1 mile N of 163 on BWR.
Butler Wash Petroglyph Panel (on the confluence with San Juan River)(5*)-Access to the trail on Rt. 163, just west of the wash. This is simply a 2 mile walk and bushwhack each way, heading south in Butler Wash. Besides the great panel at the end, there are some ruins on the way.
"Airport" Petroglyphs(4*)-Located on the sandstone bluffs facing the San Juan River. Access about 1 mile east of Butler Wash, at the airstrip.

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