It doesn’t get much better than spending days wandering the canyons and gulches of Cedar Mesa, looking for rock art and ruins. Sometimes you know exactly what you’re looking for, since many folks have been there before, and the site is hardly a secret. Those sites are still exciting to find, because they’re either hard to get to or just plain amazing. (The Big Man Panel in Grand Gulch is a good example of both: it’s hardly undiscovered, but it’s not particularly easy to get too. But once you see it: wow! It doesn’t matter that plenty of others have seen it too.)
Sometimes it happens that you write in your blog about a “secret ruin” and a reader comments and tells you about an even better ruin that you missed. When that happens, you have no choice but to return to Natural Bridges National Monument and seek out the even better ruin.
So that’s what we did a few weeks ago.
The hike down to Sipapu Bridge is a fun hike, with three ladders to climb down, and incredible views the whole way. We hiked past the first ruin that we saw last spring and kept going. On one bend of the canyon we discovered some fairly old signatures, which was pretty cool:
Not Ancestral Pueblan, though. We kept going.
I was just beginning to wonder if my blog informer was correct when we turned a corner and saw the ruin. Excellent!
This was a nice little ruin, but I couldn’t see a way to get up there. There had to be more.
We followed the cliff face, and there it was: a beautiful little ruin full of ancient kivas.
There was even a kiva with an intact roof! There are a few others on Cedar Mesa, but it’s a pretty darned rare find.
There were intact small rooms along the edge of the ruin, and some great rock art – including a wonderful panel of hands that were created by blowing the dye through reeds.
I saw one lone pot shard in the midden area of the ruin. I’m sure there were more (I hope so!) but I didn’t want to tramp all over the midden looking for them.
We ate lunch sitting on the “veranda” of the ruin, looking out at the same view the Ancestral Pueblans saw 800 years ago: