Back Roads & Arching Vistas

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The next day was spent driving a few Jeep roads in the Cedar Mesa area. We drove about 50 miles. This allowed us to scope out a nice canyon for us to hike where we could explore more cliff dwellings. This entire area of Southeastern Utah is filled with great Jeep roads of all levels. We recommend picking up a Jeep road guidebook of the area on the internet or in the local outdoor shops. There are so many roads available for off-roading, that a guidebook is a necessity to fully enjoy the area and pick out the best spots to drive…especially if you only have a few days to explore.

We chose to hike Road Canyon which is located almost directly in the middle of Cedar Mesa.. Road Canyon was a good choice for us because it is not as crowded as the more popular Grand Gulch area and also because it allowed leashed dogs. We picked up our permits at the Kane Gulch ranger station and began our drive up the road to the trailhead (N37.39085 W109.83642). That was an adventure in itself and 4WD low was needed on several occasions to get there. Road Canyon is about 1000 ft deep. Thanks to Jackie’s route finding skills, we found the faint trail that drops down to the canyon’s floor. Several sections required scrambling skills, but Scout had no trouble negotiating these sections. Four paws are definitely better than two feet when it comes to scrambling.

Once on the bottom of the canyon, our ten mile hike was absolutely beautiful and we didn’t see another soul all day. The hike generally followed the intermittent creek, then traversed up the side of the canyon to avoid the steep gullies. After about a mile or so, we reached the Seven Kivas (N37.39488 W109.82345) ruin which is one of the most pristine examples of a cliff dwelling in the area. The guidebooks indicate this was likely a very important and spiritual site for the Native Americans who lived in the area. We were amazed to see that some of the original logs use to make the roofs of the kivas were still intact. We went on to hike an additional three miles down the canyon. We returned the way we had come, and with the fading light and change of direction, the canyon took on an entirely new look. It was like hiking down a different canyon.

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