RIVER HOUSE RUINS
EXCEEDINGLY WELL PRESERVED
HISTORY OF MOON HOUSE RUINS:
The River House Ruin is located on the south eastern edge of Bears Ears National Monument, Shash Jaa Unit. River House has multiple one and two story rooms, a kiva and an assortment of pictographs. Just west of the ruin there are a couple more rooms and granaries as well as a few interesting petroglyphs that include a kokopelli and a bird. The way into River House Ruin follows a portion of the route traveled in 1879 by a group of Mormon pioneers as they began the famed Hole-in-the-Rock Expedition. This same route treks through historic San Juan Hill and the Barton Trading Post. Nearly 140 years ago. For those wanting to drive all the way to the site a high clearance 4WD vehicle or 4WD OHV is required. River House Ruins are only about 5 miles from the highway, so travelers could hike or mountain bike to the site.
GETTING THERE FROM BLANDING:
To get to the ruins from Bluff drive south on Highway 191 for about 29 miles to its junction with Highway 163. Continue straight on Highway 163 for another 3.14 miles. The highway descend down the west side of Comb Ridge. Turn left onto San Juan County Road 235 and enter Comb Wash. As mentioned above, high clearance 4WD vehicle is recommended at this point. Follow the wash for about 3.8 miles. Upon exiting the wash, you'll find a fork. If you go right, the road leads you right to the San Juan river. Stay left, for a few hundred feet, and the road turns sharply to the left and climbs a steep rocky hill. At the top of the steep section of road the Hole-in-the-Rock trail takes the left fork towards San Juan Hill. You can take a detour over there and take a look at one of the final phases of the Mormon Pioneers endeavor to establish Bluff. A great little site that is worth a 15 minute detour. You will want to stay right to continue to River House Ruin. From this point it is about another .6 miles to the ruin.
The opportunity to explore these ruins with no supervision also comes with a responsibility. Ranger patrols are infrequent, and it is up to visitors to ensure they view and explore the sites without causing damage.
Leave no trace means that it’s okay to take photos but don’t touch or disturb the artifacts.