Moon House Ruins, Cedar Mesa


Oct 27, 2013
April 15, 2015
Part 2 of ?? (previous day here)

I didn't sleep well that night as the wind howled, blowing sand into my tent until I begrudgingly got up and closed my rainfly. The next morning I woke up covered in grit to discover that a cold front had passed through, leaving temperatures significantly cooler than the low of 50s/ high in mid-70s with which I had been spoiled for the previous days of my trip.

My week alone on the road was at an end. A friend I had met on my previous hiking trip had been able to rearrange her schedule to join me, despite the short notice I had given her. We had arranged to meet at the Ranger Station right after they opened, and were the first group to get Moon House permits for the day. After moving her travel trailer from the parking lot to the camp site I'd found the night before, we left my little RAV4 behind and took her higher-clearance 4Runner out to the trailhead. With the delay, we discovered two vehicles already there.

We found the route into the canyon to be fairly straightforward. If you look closely, halfway-down on the far left before the "penninsula" is a granary. After taking a few more steps and looking to the left, the rest of the Moon House complex came into view.

The main complex. The other groups were exploring to the right, so we started on the far left.

Above the outer wall.

Seems like this must have been a special place to put the time and effort into decorating. (The actual "Moon" room is on the right, just barely in the picture)IMG_4952.JPG

I was enamored with these ancient fingerprints. I like to think about what that one individual was like who left her or his thumbprint in history.

When another group came over, we decided to give them some space and move on. Outside the walls, a woman approached me and said I looked familiar...turns out she was part of a group I had met a year and a half prior camping in the Paria area. The night was frigid, and they had graciously allowed me to join them at their campfire. I was wearing my favorite hat on both occasions, so I must have been fairly memorable. If you ever meet a two-legged moose on the trail, that's me! IMG_4953follow_1011.JPG

Continuing along. Look at how the granary wall and the rock wall to the right and below blend together nearly seamlessly.

Closeup, because I couldn't choose which picture was my favorite. IMG_4961.JPG

The internal framework, exposed again to the outside after hundreds of years as the plaster falls awayIMG_4964.JPG


More fingerprints- preserved in mud rather than paintIMG_4987_fingerprints.JPG

Optimistic tree IMG_4992.JPG

Continuing along the bench

Decorative chinking.

Looking back from the other direction

More decorations IMG_5007.JPG

We retraced our steps back to the main complex for another visit before we moved on. The view of the outside wall.

Interior courtyard, looking at the doorway to the "Moon" roomIMG_5030_edit_cr.jpg

Interior decoration, matching the exterior decoration of the adjacent structure. Look at the blackened ceiling- how many years of fires do you suppose it took to do that?IMG_5051_edit.jpg

The same white bar/dots motif repeated in a total of three locations that I saw

The broader context. With the bright light outside contrasting with the dark of the courtyard, I liked this picture better edited to grayscale.

Next, we continued a bit further along the canyon floor in the other direction and soon came across another site.


I admired the details of this knot. IMG_5065_edit.jpg

Baby footprints in the wall! Of the many amazing aspects to this hike, this was my favorite. Can you picture the young mother pressing her child's feet into the wet mud? Just like we make handprints in wet driveway or sidewalk cement today.IMG_5067_baby feet.JPG

Finally, we ended our day at these pictographs, though the rest of the canyon beckoned. IMG_5072.JPG