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I think this is officially my last post on our spring adventures and it’s the one I’m most surprised I didn’t do until this year: driving the Halls Crossing side of Highway 276 (still haven’t taken the ferry, though) to see the ruins! I still haven’t driven all the way dow to the marina there, but this was a good start.
The ruins were the main thing I wanted to see but I didn’t actually know where they were and I was afraid we would miss them but they were super easy to spot.
But first: the drive. The first section of the drive wasn’t terribly exciting, it basically looks like what you just came from on Highway 95. Lots of shrubbery, pretty flat, but soon you get into the badland/bentonite clay area called the Red House Cliffs. This is where it gets good.
We hopped out of the car and headed up to the ruins which are very easily accesible, though you do have to go through some brush (minimal brush) to get right up to them.
Up at the ruins we noticed some petroglyphs and pictographs, which I always love. There was a rattlesnake petroglyph which was really cool! In some parts of the dried mud you could even see finger prints which I think is amazing! Like, you can see part of the people that built these structures left behind. I love it so much.
One thing I’ve wanted to see for years is pottery sherds (yes, sherds, not shards) outside and I finally got to here! There were two pieces sitting on one of the dwelling walls and it was the coolest!
We did leave them behind because it’s illegal to take artifacts from public land, I’m just glad I got to see it. We decided to explore the area a bit more before leaving and headed up and around the alcove/cliff. My camera died at this point so I don’t have any pictures after the main ruin but there are a few more in the area.
The same goes for those even though they’re a little more hidden: don’t touch anything and don’t take anything. I know it’s probably annoying, but I cannot stress this enough because I know people go to these, take things, tough things, and scratch up the rock which DOES NOT NEED TO BE DONE.
After lots of wandering and just hanging out, admiring the views of the canyons below, it was time to head out since we were driving all the way back around to Bullfrog. Before that, we drove down a little dirt road which turned into a slick rock ‘road’ if you could even call it that.
Finally, we headed out, thinking about all the cool stuff I know is right in that area on Cedar Mesa, swearing to go back and really explore more of it.
I’m so glad we finally got to drive down there and see that side of the highway and the ruins since I had been wanting to since I first hear about them. It was a great way to spend a spring day and I can’t wait to go back over there.
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. It’s actually illegal to remove them, so definitely don’t do that.
- 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. Some that are pretty open (like this one) are usually OK to enter, but do so very carefully. Don’t squeeze through any doors or windows in any ruin.
- 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.
Where are the ruins on Highway 276?
These aren’t on Google Maps but they’re on the right side of the road about 23.5 miles from the turnoff of Highway 95 onto Highway 276 towards Halls Crossing. They aren’t marked with any signs but there is a small parking area and a little trail that goes up to the alcove and ruins.
What to bring hiking here
You really don’t need to bring anything to the ruins themselves but if you’re going to explore the area more you’ll want to bring the basics.
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.
Light Jacket – Because you just never know. Weather can change quickly depending on where you are and if you’ll be in any slot canyons, they can get cool depending on the time of day and season. I usually use my rain jacket for this.
Books to read before visiting the Four Corners area:
Have you seen the Halls Crossing Ruins? What are your favorite ruins in the area?