Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pueblo House Ruins with a Debatable Name.

Why the strange title? Well, depending on where you read the description of this ruin site, the number of rooms counted can range from 14 - 15 - 16 or 17, so, it's debatable. All I know is that it's listed on the "Around Bluff" pamphlet and we were going to get a check mark on it. The directions on the pamphlet make sense if you were born and bred in the area, and this was a common place you visited. For tourists, and us "outsiders" that have moved into the area, they make very little sense; now aren't you happy I write down detailed instructions to find many of the out of the way sites to see?

Using Bluff Fort/Visitor Center as the starting point, drive south 4.3 miles to the Route 163/191 junction; make that left to continue onto Route 191.  There are two ways to get to the needed road (County Road 438 aka South Foot Bridge Road or IR 5061).  At 7.6 miles is County Road 441 aka Desert Creek Road or Indian Road (IR) 5063 which will bring you to CR 438, make a left and continue onto the ruins.  We traveled this road on the way back from the ruins and it's not an exciting venture; the formations close to Route 191 though were impressive, then it was all sand, sand and more sand.  Then again, maybe all you want to see is the ruins, and you happen to like sand; so take this shorter route.

Even though we were using a detailed San Juan County map, we needed to follow the directions on the pamphlet to see how accurate, or inaccurate, it was. One of the instructions is to "Take the road headed toward the Blue Mountains (Abajo Mtns). Like I said before, if you're not from here, how are you supposed to know the Blue Mountains are the Abajo Mountains, or that Sleeping Ute Mountain (which you can see) is not them?  So off to CR 438 we headed, as the pamphlet instructed; this road is 10 miles down Route 191, and is also called South Foot Bridge Road or IR 5061.  CR 438 is an unmaintained paved road which turns to a dirt road at, can you guess?; that's right, the junction of CR 441 (7.9 miles from the start of CR 438).  The landscape along the way was more scenic; the dance of clouds with sun made for interesting light and shadow photography.

The total mileage along CR 438 is 12.8 miles to the ruin site, if you began off of Route 191; before you begin the final descent into the valley, stop and take in the view.


Along the final stretch of road, you'll be driving parallel to farmland; there are also many alcoves amongst the hills, but you'll definitely know when you're at the ruin site.  Also, there is a road off to the right (CR 453)  which ends 6/10ths of a mile at the San Juan River, or loops around, so you come directly to the ruins. 

16 Room House

Size Comparison to Vehicle

Largest Standing Section

The trail up to the ruins is extremely steep and sandy; just as you believe you have a good footing, the rock you're stepping on can quickly become loose.

The Rooms ( and no, we didn't count them, so we're taking 16 as a given)

Roy up in the ruins.
The view from the ruin site of the valley is beautiful.

The Rock Art is something that Roy and I had not seen before; handprints, some looking like flames; geometric shapes; possibly a buffalo, but it is very worn.  There is also graffiti; dates indicate it was the time that San Juan County was being settled by the white man; other graffiti is modern day carving of initials or names into the stone itself.

Human Figure

Possibly a Buffalo

Carved Graffiti among Post Holes in Rock.

After we explored this Ancestral Pueblo, we drove CR 453 simply to see what it lead us to; again 6/10th of a mile and you are at the river's edge.

Now if you had looked closely at the photos of the steep trail up to the ruins, you would have noticed it was practically lined with Columbine (Colorado State Flower);  here and there were blooming Prickly Pear Cactus, looking rather a pink color in the sunlight.  Oh, there are the local residents to look out for, lizards, either lazing on top of the hot stones, or scurrying under them for shelter.


Blooming Prickly Pear Cactus

Western Fence Lizard

Another checkmark on our to-do list; but Roy and I still have five pages to go; we are going to be very busy, as usual.
Mary Cokenour