House On Fire
One thing I do is a lot of research before embarking on a trip. I always figure, if you’re going to be in an area, it helps to know what’s there and what you should see. It also allows you to find some hidden gems that otherwise might be missed. So it was with “House on Fire”. While sifting through a bunch of links for places of interest along our route I stumbled across a blog on a hiking website. It recounted a hike into Mule Canyon to the House on Fire pueblo ruins.
(On the road in the high desert)
Finding a Needle in a Haystack
I looked up the location and found we were going to be driving right by it. The blogger mentioned a pueblo ruin that could be accessed from Rt. 95 between Blanding and Natural Bridges National Park. Since we were heading to Natural Bridges I added House on Fire to our route. There is a restored pueblo ruin right on 95 but the blogger said, while it’s nice, it’s only a pit stop. House on Fire is what should be seen.
Rt. 95 in Utah is not the Rt. 95 of the east coast-it’s the exact opposite. Traveling 95 through the vast expanse of the high desert, there are no towns, stores, or houses. What you find is mile after mile of stunning scenery and nothing else. We always left in the morning with a full tank because there were sometimes over 100 miles between gas stations, and anything else for that matter.
The instructions for finding house on fire went something like this. On Rt. 95, just around the 102 mile marker, look for a dirt road on the north side of the road. Turn in here and travel about 1/3 mile. On the left will be a lock box with envelopes. Place $2.00 per person in the envelope and put it in the lock box. Place the tab from the envelope on your dash and park across the dirt road in a pull out. Hike down the dirt road and look for a dry wash on the left. You will see the trail. Follow the trail up the dry wash (Mule Canyon) for about 1.25 miles. Look for the pueblo ruins on the right.
We followed the directions and found the trailhead without much difficulty. It was actually cloudy and cool that morning, looking like rain was imminent. We entered the dry wash and started our hike. We kept a wary eye on the sky as storms in this area can drop heavy rain a few miles away. While not raining on you, they can send a cascade of water down many of these canyons impacting hikers with flash floods even though they are miles away from the rain. It was a fun hike and we welcomed the greenery along the bottom of the dry wash that was alive with birds, collared lizards, jack rabbits, and, most likely, snakes that we never saw.
(House One Fire Pueblo Ruin)
After hiking for, what seemed like more than 1.25 miles I was beginning to wonder if we were in the right canyon? Suddenly Cyndy said; “there it is”! Sure enough up the cliff to our right we could see the ruins. We almost walked right by them.
We scrambled up the rock face and were standing in the middle of a small collection of ruins. The fact that they have existed, undisturbed for around 1000 years, is pretty amazing. Add to that the fact that you can walk among them, look inside, and imagine what it must have been like to live here was really a unique experience.
House on Fire
“House on Fire” got its name from the way it photographs. In the right light, the ruin looks like flames are pouring out of the roof. The best light is early, before the sun gets around to the west. It won’t have the same effect in sunlight. This was supposed to be our last stop of the day but I reversed the itinerary to take advantage of the lighting and time of day. This would provide an added benefit later in the day although I didn’t realize it at the time.
( Ruins at House on Fire)
We probably spent over an hour here before we headed back to the car. There are more ruins further up the canyon but it would have required about a 10 mile round trip and we didn’t have the time (or the desire) to put in that much time on the trail. We had gotten what we had come for and it was time to move on.