Cold Spring Cave Anasazi Ruins

Cold Spring Cave
and Eagle's Nest
Anasazi Ruins

Cedar Mesa
Hiking

           Cold Spring Cave is a fascinating Anasazi (sometimes called Ancient Pueblo or Ancestral Pueblo) cliff dwelling tucked into Comb Ridge. The ruins contain many interesting structures and varied pictographs and petroglyphs. The more adventurous can scramble over to an outstanding viewpoint of Eagle's Nest, which are amazing Anasazi ruins built high in the alcove of a massive sandstone cliff.

Circle of Friends:
          Cold Spring Cave Ruins are part of the "Circle of Friends" program. Members of the "Circle of Friends" have access to more specific information, explicit route information, GPS waypoints, trailhead location and detailed maps. If you would like more information on joining the "Circle of Friends" visit the sign up page.

"Circle of Friends"

Cold Spring Cave in Butler Wash Cold Spring Cave Hand Prints

General Information:
          Cold Spring Cave Ruins require a short hike. The route is rated 1A I using the Canyon Rating System. A good route description and a GPS are extremely useful in locating ruins and verifying you are on the correct course. Navigation for this route is moderate.

Deep inside Cold Spring Cave

Trailhead Information:
          The trailhead is usually accessible to all vehicles in good weather.

Pictograph's at Cold Spring Cave

History:
          Cold Spring Cave and Eagle's Nest were discovered by the 1892 Illustrated America Exploring Expedition. Warren K. Moorehead was appointed as leader of the expedition to explore, survey, map, photograph, and secure specimens in southeastern Utah. Although the Illustrated America Exploring Expedition collection of artifacts was very small, Moorehead and members of his expedition wrote enthusiastically and romantically about their adventures and discoveries in a series of articles for American Illustrated Magazine. Their descriptions of alcoves and ruins in Butler Wash are memorable.

Sierra at Cold Spring Cave

Discovery of Cold Spring Cave:
          Here is what the 1892 Illustrated America Exploring Expedition wrote about the discovery of Cold Spring Cave.

          "In the immense sandstone spur outcropping between Butler's Wash and Comb Wash, about ten miles north of the San Juan River, we noticed a large cave in one of the deep canyons in the ledge, and, examining it with our field glasses we thought we could distinguish ruins near the opening. Four of us started to investigate and found it a cavern of great dimensions, with the whole floor under the overhanging ledge studded with ruins. The canyon in which this picturesque cave town is situated is wild and beautiful, shut in on all sides by high sandstone cliffs, and having only one narrow entrance. The foliage is almost tropical in its luxuriousness. We found cactus plants of gigantic size, and grass and flowering plants over a foot in height, while the bare rocky ledges were studded with cedars, cottonwood and pinions. This luxurious growth of cactus and of other plants which were stunted upon mesas is probably caused by the heat being retained in the bare, rocky ledges, thus producing the forcing effect of a green house. We have named the place Cold Spring Cave, on account of the fine spring of cold, clear water away in the back interior of the cave. it flows out from under the heavy sandstone ledge into a round, clear pool, and, after passing through a short outlet, sinks into the ground and disappears, not half a dozen feet from where it started."

Eagle's Nest high above Butler Wash

Discovery of Eagle's Nest:
          Here is what the 1892 Illustrated America Exploring Expedition wrote about the discovery of Eagle's Nest.

         "While examining the canyons near Cold Spring Cave, our attention was attracted to a cave-like recess near the top of one of he high cliffs, about a mile to the northwest. We gave it the fitting name of Eagle’s Nest. As it looked difficult of access, we took a long stout rope and started up the cliff, intending, if possible, to obtain entrance to it by means of the rope from the top of the cliff. Upon reaching the top, the cliff proved very much higher than we had expected. Beneath us was full four hundred feet of sheer precipice, the cave being situated about fifty feet from the top. We fastened our rope to three sage-brushes, about fifty feet apart, and then, by clinging to the rope and swinging from one foothold to another, we were able to reach the floor of the cave, although at first it seemed a difficult feat to swing under the overhanging ledge into the cave."

          "One can not see the bottom of the cliff from the cave, yet if a rock is hurled over the side, it can be heard crashing its way down the sides of the cliff to a surprisingly great depth."

Eagle's Nest Anasazi Ruins

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