Circle of Friends:
AKA: Snake House
Anasazi Ruins & Petroglyphs
House is awesome because you get the trifecta - pioneer history, Anasazi ruins and rock
art. Best of all it's an adventure the entire family can enjoy.
History: the route retraces part of the route traveled in 1879 when a group of
Mormon pioneers began the now famous Hole-in-the-Rock Expedition. This route visits the
historical San Juan Hill and the Barton Trading Post.
Ruins: River House is one of the better and more photogenic Anasazi ruins to be
found in Cedar Mesa.
Art: An easy 1 mile hike along the base of a sandstone cliffs will allow you to
visit literally hundreds of petroglyph panels containing several thousand individual
House is 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
"Circle of Friends"
River House Ruin is a fun adventure
suitable for the entire family. The ruins are impressive and well presserved. The ruins
are accessible year round in good weather. This route also visits one of the largest
panels of rock art that I know of, it is massive. Please take only pictures and leave only
footprints. A GPS is useful in verifying you are on the correct route and in locating
specific ruins. Navigation for this route is easy.
A four wheel drive vehicle is required to reach River House.
A stock four wheel drive truck or SUV should have no problem driving right to the Anasazi
ruins. Camping is available
San Juan Hill - This is the
obstacle that finally broke the Hole-in-the-Rock Emigrants. By the time the 236 emigrants
reached the base of the hill in the spring of 1880 they had defeated many miles of rugged
terrain. Elizabeth Morris Decker, in a letter to her parents, wrote a vivid account of the
trek "...the roughest country you or anybody else ever seen; its nothing in the world
but rocks and holes, hills and hollows. The mountains are just one solid rock as smooth as
an apple." The brave pioneers cut dugways and blasted roads through the slickrock and
cut a passable trail through the dense cedar forests. On the north bank of the San Juan
River the weary, hungry, and discouraged travelers finally reached the solid rock wall of
Comb Ridge and San Juan Hill. According to Lemuel H. Redd Jr, who drove a horse team up
the hill, the steep, slick grade took its toll on the exhausted animals and men. Many of
the horses went into "spasms and near-convulsions" as they battled for footholds
on the upward climb. When it was all over "the worst stretches [on the hill] could be
easily identified by the dried blood and matted hair from the forelegs of the struggling
teams." The pioneers reached the present site of Bluff in April 1880 and set to work
establishing a new community.