Saturday & Sunday, July 14-15, 2012
The Original Trip Report on ADVENTR.CO
I first tried to explore Horse Canyon in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park back in 2008 when I camped at Peekaboo with a few friends. Back then the entrance to the canyon had been washed out pretty good and there was a very deep hole blocking vehicle entry. For the past two years I have been checking the condition of the road so that I could finally get back there to start exploring the area, but both the Salt Creek and Horse Canyon roads have been washed out and closed for that long. I have hiked up Salt Creek Canyon twice during those two years, but Horse Canyon was a bit too long for a day hike. A few weeks ago I finally received word that the National Parks Service had finally reopened the roads in Salt Creek and Horse Canyon, so I quickly made plans to get back. I reserved a campsite at Peekaboo for the weekend and invited Jared and Marty to come along.
After work on Friday, I drove down to Cottonwood Canyon and setup camp so that I would be close to Canyonlands in the morning and wouldn’t have to do much driving. There were a few rain showers in the evening, but the precipitation stopped before I went to bed, and I had a great night of sleep.
Good Morning by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr
In the morning I had a little time to photograph this ruin high up on the canyon wall. I have driven by this site many times and had not been able to find it before. It would have been a long hike up to reach it, but unfortunately I didn’t have the time this morning to try. I will have to return again to climb up to the ruin for some closer photos.
High Tower by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr
After photographing the tower, I continued my drive into the park where I met Jared and Marty at the Needle’s Visitor Center so that we could get our permits and the combination for the lock on the gate. Jared transferred his camping gear into my Jeep and parked his car at the trailhead before we continued through the locked gate into Salt Creek. The drive through the wash was in soft sand as usual, but the debris that had blocked the road in May had been removed. It was nice to be able to avoid this mosquito-infested area by closing the windows of the Jeep 😉 The deep holes that had blocked the entrance to Horse Canyon had also been filled in a bit. We drove through the holes and brush that was growing in the road and continued up Horse Canyon, where we would be spending much of the day searching for ruins and rock art.
We almost missed the remains of a tower near the mouth of the canyon. Good thing Marty spotted this one after we had passed it.
Watch Tower by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr
Jared checks out a very small granary that we spotted and climbed up to. The interesting part about this site is how the ledge in front of it was built out in order to make it larger. I can’t recall seeing this done anywhere else?
Built Ledge Granary by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr
We almost missed this nice granary even though it was practically right next to the road.
Jeep & Ruin by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr
A closer look at the ruin.
Horse Canyon Ruin by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr
Soon we reached the large arch known as Paul Bunyan’s Potty.
Paul Bunyan’s Potty by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr
We found a route up the sandstone ledges that took us right under the arch so that we could try to visit the ruins and rock art hidden up there. Unfortunately, I was stopped stopped about 20 feet below the final ledge because the climb was just too steep for me. Jared, on the other hand, was able to make it to the final ledge to check it out. Here’s Jared climbing the final pitch.
Jared Climbing by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr
Here’s a view out from where I stopped climbing just under Paul Bunyan’s Potty.
Overcast View by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr
Here’s a photo from as high as I climbed of one of the ruins I was trying to reach.
Paul’s Kiva by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr
There were also a few other smaller ruins up there that I could see, plus many red handprints and some white dots on the back of the large alcove. You can see them all in this photo if you look closely.
Upper Ruins by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr