Once again, I'm starting this adventure from the junction of Mustang Road (CR 207) and Alkali Point Road (CR 204). Since we found the cliff dwellings by a trail on Alkali Point Road, we figured they were located on the cliff walls off of Mustang Road. Now we wanted to find these mesa top ruins we'd read about and needed to estimate a comparison between both roads. That didn't go so well; between miles 1 to 3; the land is open for hiking, but the canyon is fenced off. Miles 4 to 6 is all private land, so no hiking at all. Remember those instructions from the "Visiting the Ancients" site I quoted in my first write up about this area; yeah, still laughing over that.
It wasn't until we reached mile 10 that we hit pay dirt; literally! There is a graded gravel road leading down into the canyon and when you've traveled only 1.1 miles along it, to the north you can make out ruins in the cliff walls.
The big question is, "How do we get up to the mesa top from the gravel road?". We drove on further and noticed that the road split into three separate trails. Two of the trails dead end at pump jacks; the third trail goes past the oil company buildings and becomes ATV trail CR 265 which primarily ends at Perkins Road (CR 206) with a side trail here and there along the way.
So, back to the mesa top question; that's when Roy says to me suddenly, "Hey, I noticed a dirt trail that split off from the gravel road before we saw those ruins. We traveled back to the split which is 3/10ths of a mile from when we first turned off Mustang Road and onto the gravel road. ATVs and 4-wheel drive vehicles will have no problem with this trail, or the trails that branch off from it. The first trail that branched off was at 1/10th of a mile, but it only looped back around to the main trail. At 3/10ths of a mile, a trail went up a steep incline and then balanced out; we went as far as we could and walked out towards the canyon we could see beyond. Oh what a sight to see, and Eureka!, we found the ruins we'd seen from the gravel road.
First the scenery of the mesa top; it is quite similar to an alien landscape. Open areas may have piles of rubble and this is possibly what may be left from some of the original ancestral ruins. Pottery shards and cutting/scraping tools made from agate can be easily found; be careful to watch where you're stepping, so they don't get broken or crushed.
|View of the gravel road
The climb down to the ruins is not difficult; watch out for loose sand and stones though. The walls of this granary are completely intact; the opening in the rocks at the side of the granary allows you a further look inside than just the window.
Now here's a mystery we encountered; carvings on the wall that simply looked like lines going this way and that. We are clueless as to whether they were made by the ancestral Puebloans, or is it vandalism by "modern day would-be artists"?
I cannot resist taking photos of the local plant life; delicate plants and flowers thriving in sandy soil and amongst the boulders along with the cacti.
|Silvery Townsendia (sunflower family)
|Woodsia ilvensis (rusty cliff fern0
|Wooly Marigold (aster family)
|Prickly Pear Cactus with Red Bloom
When I do my next write up on the Alkali Ridge and Canyon area, it will be about the National Landmark itself.