Thanksgiving Weekend with The Ancients


Jan 17, 2012
Friday – Sunday, November 27-29, 2015

This year Diane and I spent Black Friday and rest of the Thanksgiving Weekend hiking and searching for ancient ruins and rock art in southeast Utah. Instead of camping at Natural Bridges National Monument like we did last year, this time we based out of a hotel in Blanding. I think it was a good decision since temperatures were a bit colder than I would have preferred, although we were lucky enough not to get any snow over the weekend like they did back home in Grand Junction. We ended up spending time in Montezuma Canyon, Cedar Mesa and along Comb Ridge throughout the weekend. We got to explore new areas and find a few new sites, plus we also revisited some old ones. It was a nice holiday weekend.

Sunrise on The Palisade in Gateway, Colorado. We took the scenic drive though western Colorado on our way down Friday morning.

A very busy panel of pictographs located high in a shallow alcove.

There were a lot of interesting pictographs located in this area.

Another high panel near the top of the alcove.

The left side of the busy panel.

The Rainmaker

Circles were a common theme among these petroglyph panels.

Serenading the Spirits. This is certainly one of the most unusual petroglyphs I have come across. It appears there is a flute player emerging from the head of the anthropomorph on the left!

We visited the Spirit Shelter which is constructed at the top of a deep vertical crack in the cliff.

A better view of the precarious location.

Behind the doorway is an ancient constructed floor with a big drop below. The pathway leads to a ledge containing rock art, but I certainly didn’t trust the floor and didn’t proceed any further.

An unusual hat found in this petroglyph.

Diane enjoys the sunset on this beautiful evening.

The foundation of a ruin at the edge of the cliff with Sleeping Ute Mountain in the distance.

The clouds at sunset over Sleeping Ute Mountain were very nice.

A Cedar Mesa road.

Hiking down a narrowing sandstone canyon of Cedar Mesa.

Fun with shadows…

Exploring the rim of the canyon.

A nice set of ruins we found just under the rim of the canyon.

Following the benches in Lime Creek Canyon.

Another small ruin we found just under the rim of the canyon.

A water-filled pothole near the head of the canyon.

We spent too much time trying to access this set of ruins only to be turned back by the narrow ledge they were located on high above the canyon floor that neither Diane or I were courageous enough to traverse. This photo was taken later in the day from the opposite rim of the canyon.

An evening panoramic view of the Abajo Mountains. Click on the image for a bigger view.

Intense color surrounds Navajo Mountain in this wide view at sunset taken from Salvation Knoll on our way back to Blanding. Another wide panorama that you can see better by clicking on the image.

It’s been a while since I had visited the Target Ruins and Diane had never been here before.

A panoramic view of the ruins including a glimpse of the pictograph that inspired the name.

Another view from above.

A colorful biofilm, created from decaying leaves, coats a calm section of water in the wash and reflects the bare branches of the cottonwood above.

Decaying leaves in the water.

Inside the massive Ballroom Cave. The darker section below goes back for quite a ways and there are a few remains of structures hidden in the darkness.

A few colorful pictographs found near the entrance to the alcove.

One last photo of the colorful biofilm and decaying leaves.

>> Thanksgiving Weekend with The Ancients Photo Gallery
>> The Original Trip Report on ADVENTR.CO


Aug 9, 2007
I've missed your reports, Randy. Also fun to see you post about ruins I've also visited (that doesn't happen often!). I really like the decaying leaf photos.


Desert Rat-Weekend Warrior
Jun 7, 2012
I'd really like to get down to Cedar Mesa. Too many places.

I love the half light on a few of those ruin photos.


Hike Hard, Tread Lightly
May 15, 2013
Nice Randy! The biofilm is awesome. I love the crystal blue sky down in the area!
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