On our way to Blanding for some groceries for our houseboat trip, we decided to stop at the Butler Wash Ruins. I had seen the sign before but didn’t actually know what to expect. At all. We pulled over and set out waterless because we were totally unprepared as usual. Also, if you like Geocaching, there used to be one at the trailhead, but I’m not sure if it’s still there. Keep an eye out for it!
The hike to the overlook of the ruins is about a mile, give or take, neither of us read the sign, but you can keep going up to the ruins themselves. I thought of it as a mini Mesa Verde, not that I know what that’s like, but maybe I’ll find out this summer! (I know now!)
While it’s great to look at, we decided to hike down, then back up the other side to the actual ruins. This wasn’t actually all that tough, just finding the best way up was. We had to turn around a couple times before successfully making it. Going back was a breeze, though.
Looking back at pictures, I have no idea how we got up to them. If you do visit these and hike up to them, please be respectful of the ruins and don’t take or harm them. The Butler Wash Ruins were definitely cool to explore, and I’m glad we went across to them.
If you’re doing a southwest road trip, which everyone should do at least once, this is an easy trip from Moab and an even better stop if you take Highway 95 from Moab to Lake Powell or Capitol Reef. It’s a longer dive, but way more scenic, I’d highly recommend it. It only takes an hour or two to actually hike to the ruins themselves. Less if you just go to the overlook. It also makes a great day trip from Blanding and can be combined with a trip to Natural Bridges National Monument.
Things to keep in mind when visiting rock art & ruins:
- Do not touch the rock art (pictographs or petroglyphs) because the oils on our fingers can degrade them.
- If you find artifacts, do not take them. Leave them where they are and just take pictures.
- If there are structures (rooms, kivas, anything like that) don’t enter them unless it is stated that you can. Most places you can’t but national and state parks will have restored structures you can enter. Mesa Verde, Edge of the Cedars, and Anasazi Museum all have ruins you can enter.
- And finally, don’t carve in or write or paint or draw on the rocks! I don’t want to have to say this, but I need to fo sho.
What to bring on the Butler Wash Ruins hike
Hiking poles – These will be helpful on longer hikes that are on the steeper side. They’ll be good if you have bad knees for when you’re going downhill and will give you something to lean on going up the hills.
Snacks – These are more important for long hikes, but you never know when you’ll get hungry! I like EPIC bars (kind of like beef jerky but different), Sahale nut mix things, and Moon Cheese. There’s always the good old Clif Bars and trail mix, too.
How to get to the Butler Wash Ruins Trailhead
These are pretty easy to get to. On the side of the road you’ll see a sign that says “Indian Ruins” or something like that and there is a good-sized parking area on the left down a short road. The trail is on Highway 95 and the perfect stop if you’re in Blanding, or are coming from the Moki Dugway or Lake Powell/Capitol Reef and headed to Moab or Monument Valley. Or as a stop on a Trail of the Ancients road trip.
How long is the hike to Butler Wash Ruins?
Less than one mile round-trip to the main ruins. There are other ruins in the area that you can also hike to but that will be 2+ miles. I would plan an hour for these.
You can hike up to the ruins, but I’m not sure there is an official trail for that. There are cairns leading up to the main viewpoint, but you can go down to the left and up from there. Just be careful if you go up to them. I don’t remember exactly how we did it, but I know it was tough and involved some rock scrambling. If you don’t feel comfortable, definitely don’t go up to them.
Have you been to the Butler Wash Ruins? What about Mesa Verde or some other ones? Do you want to go?