Friday, September 23, 2011

Cottonwood Canyon Ruin Site

This wonderful site near Kanab, Ut. is one of the few cliff dwellings in the area. It is a difficult (approximately) 7 1/2 mile round trip hike and a person will likely only average just over a mile per hour. Well worth it! Start across Rt. 89 from the Hog Canyon 4WD playground entrance (so you will be entering the sandy track on the west side of the highway). After wallowing around a while you will find the only place where you can easily 4WD across Kanab Creek. First priority is to scramble to the top of the rim on the north side of Trail Canyon. You will (as per usual) constantly be thinking "this must be the top", but it isn't. If you began to get vertical asap, eventually find a tepee-shaped white dome rock formation and head for the deep red rocks directly above and northwest of the tepee. Shortly thereafter you reach a fence and the top. It is only about 3/4 mi. from bottom to top, but close to an hour. After going through the fence head west-south-west through sandy rim terrain for about 1 1/4 miles. This terrain is up and down, up and down-another hour. You should not get lost here, keeping Trail Canyon to your left. Tiny Canyon is on your right. Stay as close to Trail Canyon as possible while trying to stay westbound. Intersect an old 4WD trail (archaeologists or pot-hunters made this I assume) which has not been used for 20 years and heads still westerly. Difficult to follow in places (and we saw a rattlesnake too), but you don't belong out here if you can't do it. 25 minutes or 1 mile on this obscure track brings you to an intersection with a more evident north and south 2-track. This is the most important junction since gaining the rim. Go south on this track for five minutes to a locked gate and fence. Walk west along the fence 5 minutes or so to the canyon rim. This is not actually Cottonwood but it IS where the ruin is. At the end of the fence you are at the northern "finger" of a 3 "finger" canyon. Head south along the rim, keeping the canyon on your right. Basically heading south and west, 15 minutes from the fence you are standing directly above the ruin but will never see it. This cost me hours of rambling around. Now stay close to the rim! Heading primarily west now and looking back north and east, eventually (15 minutes approx. after you were standing directly above the site) you will spot an alcove which faces west and is almost obscured by vegetation. There it is! Get out the binoculars and you will confirm ancient dwellings before scrambling down. It's a tough climb down and back up (15 minutes out) and more rattlers live here. I don't know that this site is worth dying for, but snakes are scared of you too. Most bites occur if we people want to play with snakes. Rattlesnakes don't play, puppies do.
There is another way to the site but I am not sharing right now.


  1. Maven, could I get the other directions for the Cottonwood Coanyon Ruins?

    1. I am sorry for the late answer. Maven has passed away. I do not know the other directions or I would share with you. Good luck.