MOON HOUSE RUINS
A VAST OUTDOOR MUSEUM OF ANASAZI RUINS AND ROCK ART
HISTORY OF MOON HOUSE RUINS:
Of all the archaeology sites within Bears Ears National Monument, many hikers consider Moon House to be among the best sites to behold. Moon House is a well preserved site, made up of three separate dwellings. These dwellings have a total of 49 rooms, and is easily one of the largest on the mesa. Along with the well preserved rooms, Moon House features fascinating pictographs on the interior walls of the structures. The pictographs are cycles of the moon, but some believe they could even be a depiction of an eclipse in the area. Also noteworthy is its construction that places a wall along the outer edge of the alcove, creating a sheltered inner courtyard. A series of rooms built in the back of the alcove open onto the courtyard.
The BLM now manages Moon House as a special recreation management area, which limits access to 20 people per day and requires appropriate visitation manners aimed towards preserving the structural integrity of the site. These include: entering as explained by BLM procedures; not entering any interior rooms; not leaning, climbing or pulling on the walls. Remember, it is illegal to remove any artifacts or damage sites in any way. Fines or jail time can result for those who break the law.
GETTING THERE FROM BLANDING:
Turn west onto Highway 95 and follow the road for 28.4 miles and turn left onto UT 261. Follow 261 for about 4 miles and stop at the Kane Gulch Ranger Station to get the required hiking permit.
March 1 to June 15 | Kane Gulch Ranger Station is open 8 am to 12 pm, seven days a week
Sept 1 to Oct 31 | Kane Gulch Ranger Station is open 8 am to 12 pm, seven days a week
Be sure to arrive early in the day to get your permit.
During the rest of the year, permits are self-serve at the trailhead.
Continue heading south on UT 261 until you reach Snow Flat Road, approximately 6 miles south of ranger station. Turn left, view the BLM map, and veer left at a small sign marked “Trail.” When conditions are wet, this road can be impassable at times. Check the weather before beginning your trip to Moonhouse. Around the 8.2 mile mark you reach the trailhead marked by a kiosk and parking area. (Two wheel drive vehicles can make the trip if they have good clearance.) Four wheel drive vehicles can turn left (north) on the unmarked dirt road across from the parking area and drive for 1.2 miles to a parking area. The road is rough in places and has a very high center. Avoid the Snow Flat Road during wet conditions.
HIKING TO MOONHOUSE:
The trail to Moon House heads east/northeast through pinyon pine, junipers and desert scrub for 0.2 miles (from 4WD parking lot) to the rim of McCloyd Canyon. Upon reaching the rim please look for the cairned route that drops down a series of steep switchbacks to a slickrock ledge. The trail will head north, traveling along the ledge.
About three-quarters of the way up the far wall you will see alcoves with ruins. Near the end of the ledge traverse views open to a long line of ruins sheltered in a huge alcove, this is Moon House.
At the end of the ledge the trail turns east/northeast and zigzags steeply down an old rockslide to the canyon floor. The trail reaches the canyon floor by some huge boulders. Make note of the location so you can find the trail out of the canyon on the return leg of the hike. Turn right (southeast) and head down the canyon for about 100 yards, watching for rock cairns marking the trail. Hikers will then climb up the northeast canyon wall to the ruins. The trail can be strenuous at times. Please be aware of your surroundings and do not disturb the cained route markers or the site.