Hike To House On Fire Ruins In Mule Canyon

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The House on Fire ruin is probably the most unique ruin site in Utah which should land it at the top of your Utah bucket list and road trip itinerary.  I had no idea it even existed until a few months before going.

This was one of the places I wanted to take my parents when they came to visit, so go we did.  We set out pretty early because you really have to see this at the right time (10-11 AMish) to get the fire effect on the rocks.

This site gets its name from the flaming rock that the ruins were built under.  The overhang makes the buildings look like they’re on fire, hence the name House On Fire.  These are the first of eight Mule Canyon ruins.

You can hike all the way down the canyon to see all of them over the day, but if you want a short hike to something really cool, this is perfect.

Travel Services I Recommend:
AllTrails – This is my favorite hike tracking app.
America the Beautiful – The national park pass is essential.
Booking.com – This is great for finding and booking hotels.
Get Your Guide – I recommend Get Your Guide for booking tours.
National Park Obsessed – This is the best national park planner.
Skyscanner – Skyscanner is great for finding and booking flights.
Enterprise – This is my rental car recommendation.
See all my resources here.


So, off we went to Texas Flat Road.  We had no idea how far down the road the trailhead was because there was absolutely no signage for it and I didn’t see anything online about it.

The House on Fire trailhead is 0.3-miles down Texas Flat Road but there is no sign or parking area.  The road is just a little bit wider, so there is room to park.  You just might not notice it if you don’t know where it is.

We probably ended up driving four or five miles down the road before turning around, almost giving up, until we saw some other cars parked on the side of the road. 

We hopped out and I asked if this was the trailhead.  It was!  There is a little space in the brush on the left side of the road on your way in and that is where you want to go.


Go down the little bank on the side of the road to the actual trail.  From the road, you’ll be able to see the little board at the trailhead. 

The trail is pretty easy to follow, but there are a few places where it can be a little confusing.  It goes in and out of the wash, crossing over it, going up to the side.

Even if you miss one section of the trail and keep following the wash, you’ll be fine and still get there.  As long as you’re not going way up the sides of the canyon, you’ll be fine.

We were passing and getting passed by the group of aging people we asked about the trailhead.  And just for the record, one of the ladies in the group called themselves aging instead of old, so that is what I’d like to use for now because I love it.

We passed them one last time and ended up at the ruins first, which are about a mile in from the trailhead.  For a while, I thought we missed it, but we didn’t.  It was on the right side of the trail under an overhang.


Now, I won’t lie, the fire effect isn’t extremely prominent in real life.  I mean, you can definitely see it, but it isn’t glowing like in the pictures.  And it wasn’t glowing on my phone pictures, just my camera.

Either way, I still loved it.  The site is a lot smaller than I was expecting, but it’s still so cool!  I was so excited to be here, it’s like I couldn’t look at everything enough.

I would take pictures of the ruins, then run off through the little crack off to the left of them, climb up on top of the rocks, then run back over to the ruins.  I felt like a kid in a candy store and these weren’t even the first ruins I had seen. 

I had been to Mesa Verde and Butler Wash before that.  (Also, no I wasn’t climbing on anything I wasn’t supposed to, just regular rock.)


We were trying to take a family picture in front of the ruins with the self-timer on my dads’ camera but it was below us, so I was in charge of pushing the shutter and running back up. 

Let me tell you, that was a workout!  I would run down to push the button, jump up and run back up to my spot, then do it all over again.  I was pretty tired by the last shot, but I was also laughing a lot.

The aging group arrived just after that and we all milled about talking about how cool it was before leaving.  Just before we left, they were taking a group picture and asked if I could take it with their phone. 

I ran up to grab it and one of the ladies said: “you can’t do that in front of us aging people!”  That’s why I’ve been saying it.


They mentioned that all the blogs they found about the hike say it’s really easy and it just isn’t, so I would like to add that this might be a little more difficult for you if you’re not used to hiking in sand. 

I can also see that it could be a little tough to follow the trail since it isn’t super well marked. When in doubt, stick to the wash.

There isn’t much elevation gain, though, so that’s a plus.  I’d say aside from walking in sand, the hardest part is actually getting up to the ruins because it’s kind of steep slick rock.  If you’re used to desert hiking though, it’s not bad.

We were starting to get hungry so we headed out.  It was an uneventful walk out, but I was so glad that I got to see House on Fire since we didn’t get to go earlier in the summer.

Well, we could have gone but decided not to.  Overall, I would highly recommend this if you’re in the area and have a spare morning and like ruins.  It’s truly one of a kind and something you won’t find anywhere else.


Where is the House on Fire Trailhead and how long is the trail?

The trailhead is 0.3 miles down Texas Flat Road in Mule Canyon, not by the Mule Canyon roadside ruins.  It is 25 miles from Blanding on Highway 95.  You’ll see a sign for the road, but the trailhead isn’t well marked. 

We only found it because another car stopped and I noticed a sign down in the wash.  A regular car can make it to the trailhead just fine.


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 VerdeEdge 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 for real.

How long is the hike to House on Fire ruin?

Two miles round-trip but the canyon continues for another 3.5 miles beyond this ruin where you can see eight more along the way! It’s a pretty flat trail, you’re basically just following the wash the whole way.


Is the House on Fire ruin hike worth it?

Yes! I loved this and it’s a great ruin site that is easy to access. Just please be respectful of the area and don’t take any artifacts. It’s a nice hike to stretch your legs on Highway 95.

Books to read before visiting the Four Corners:

24 thoughts on “Hike To House On Fire Ruins In Mule Canyon

    1. Thank you! I’m not sure. I want to say some type of sandstone but that could be wrong. I haven’t been able to find it.

    1. Thank you! Isn’t it awesome!? I was living less than two hours from it for two summers and had no idea it existed until this year haha

  1. This is sooo cool Megan! I love the way the rocks look like they are glowing in your photos! I mean, even if they don’t look like that in real life, those formations are beautiful!!

    1. Thank you! When I looked at the first picture I was so surprised! I mean, I knew what it looked like in pictures but to actually see it!

  2. Thanks for this post! I’m so glad I stumbled onto it. I sm planning a trip there for spring break now.

  3. I really enjoy your blog. I’m a newbie to blogging and am looking for other bloggers to aspire to and learn from. Your blog is interesting, easy to read and user friendly. Well done!

  4. Seeing as i want to filter my portrait business with more travel photos, your blog has a new place for me to read up on before I hit the road! Without looking through everything do you have an experience that is particularly favorable to you and could you link it?

  5. Wow, these rocks look amazing! Would love to see this site! It’s a shame trails aren’t as well signed as they are over here in the UK. I found this problem when in the Catskills – could not find routes we were looking for even with good maps and directions.

    1. Isn’t it cool!? Some trails are really well marked (in parks, especially) but others in the backcountry, which this could technically be considered, I think, it’s more of route finding.

  6. Megan, we’ll be spending the previous night in Monument Valley and were thinking of checking out Mexican Hat and making a stop at Goosenecks State Park before hiking here. The trip is planned for Oct. , so I’m wondering if because of time difference and shorter daylight hours, we can make it it there for the 10-11 phenomenon? I don’t want to leave Monument Valley before daybreak and miss the scenery driving north. Thoughts? Thanks!

    1. Hey! I think that would be pretty tough to manage. It’s about a two hour drive from Monument Valley to the trailhead, so even without a stop in Mexican Hat or Goosenecks, it could be pushing it. I think we left between 7 & 730 with a drive around two hours (and didn’t make any stops) and made it to the ruins right at ten. I would say skip Goosenecks and go here. There isn’t much to do at Goosenecks, but would probably add30-45 minutes to the drive for stopping and what not.

  7. Was just there last month. Hiked it around noon-1 local time and got magnificent photos. We started down the BLM portion (start of Mule Canyon) and hiked 100% in the wash.

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