Mule Canyon + House on Fire Ruin

Bears Ears National Monument

Colorado Plateau, Utah

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Mule Canyon + House on Fire Ruin

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  • House on Fire Ruin.- Mule Canyon + House on Fire Ruin
  • Parking along the road at the mouth of South Mule Canyon.- Mule Canyon + House on Fire Ruin
  • Registration station at the start of the trail.- Mule Canyon + House on Fire Ruin
  • Claret cup cactus in bloom.- Mule Canyon + House on Fire Ruin
  • Mule Canyon is quite lush and green for Utah.- Mule Canyon + House on Fire Ruin
  • Along the Mule Canyon Trail.- Mule Canyon + House on Fire Ruin
  • The ruin is just a short climb up from the main trail on the right.- Mule Canyon + House on Fire Ruin
  • House on Fire Ruin.- Mule Canyon + House on Fire Ruin
  • House on Fire Ruin.- Mule Canyon + House on Fire Ruin
  • House on Fire Ruin.- Mule Canyon + House on Fire Ruin
  • Handprint pictographs in the passageway to the left of the ruins.- Mule Canyon + House on Fire Ruin
  • Another ruin on a ledge to the right of the main trail 1 mile further. - Mule Canyon + House on Fire Ruin
  • Mule Canyon.- Mule Canyon + House on Fire Ruin
  • The BLM Mule Canyon ruin exhibit is a third of a mile west off of Highway 95.- Mule Canyon + House on Fire Ruin
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Lush canyon trail. Interesting ruins. Great photo ops.
Cons: 
Popular trail.
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Region:
Colorado Plateau, UT
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
240.00 ft (73.15 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for: 
Hiking
Total Distance: 
4.50 mi (7.24 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
5,862.00 ft (1,786.74 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Cedar Mesa is believed to contain thousands of archeological sites that date from between 2,500 to 700 years old. The area is forbidding in its rugged remoteness. It is essentially uninhabited from Hanksville to Blanding, which is about 100 miles southeast. Crisscrossing this flat tabletop are literally thousands of miles of canyons that are sunken below the surface of the mesa. Ruins and wall art are found in many of these canyons, much of it being undocumented or very difficult to reach. One area that is quite accessible to the visitor is Mule Canyon, which is not far off of UT-95. There are two arms of Mule Canyon, and both contain ruins every half to 1 mile or so. This adventure covers just a part of South Mule Canyon, which has some very picturesque ruins.

One of the most famous of the Cedar Mesa Puebloan ruins is commonly called the “House on Fire” ruin. It is actually the first ruin along the South Mule Canyon Trail, and it is located about a mile from the trailhead. The parking area is in a little saddle at the mouth of the canyon about a third of a mile north of UT-95 at mile marker 102. The trail drops quickly into the canyon, which is lovely and quite verdant for this area. The trail is almost flat, following the wash floor upstream. The ruin is visible on the right side after a sharp bend to the right after about a mile and about 25 feet above the floor of the canyon. There are three main structures in the grouping, and the unique markings on the roof look like flames in the orange reflected light of the ledge. In the passageway to the left of the ruins there are some handprint pictographs high on the wall.

The trail continues further up the canyon for about 6 total miles, and there are several more ruins along the way. The second one is just about a mile further than the first and is up on the right wall. It appears to be part of a much larger structure that is only partially standing. 

There is a BLM exhibit off the highway about a third of a mile west of the turnoff for Mule Canyon. Here you can find some reconstructed ruins and a very good educational display about the ancestral Puebloan peoples who lived in the area.

NOTE:  The sign and turnoff for the “Mule Canyon Indian Ruins” is for the BLM exhibit, not the trailhead, which is a third of a mile further east on the highway and not marked.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(13 within a 30 mile radius)

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