Tower Ruin

Round Trip Distance: 0.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 5644 - 5878 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Tower Ruin
Fee: none
Attractions: Cliff dwelling, rock art

The Tower Ruin is located about 10 miles west of Blanding, Utah, as the crow flies, on the east side of Comb Ridge in an alcove at the head of Butler Wash. The main structure of the tower is well preserved and is accompanied by a granary that is in similar condition. Butler Wash provides a beautiful setting for the site making it easy to see why someone would want to take up residence there.

To get there head south out of Blanding and turn west on UT-95 toward Natural Bridges National Monument. Continue for about 6.3 miles and turn right onto the Cottonwood Road aka County Road 228.

Go left just before the 1 mile point from UT-95 where the pavement ends.

Continue for another 4 miles which making the total distance from UT-95 come out to about 5 miles. Passenger cars shouldn't have any trouble making it this far during good conditions. There is another jeep road right before this one and yet another just past it that might make things a little confusing. This turnoff and the next one both lead to the same place but we can't speak to the first one.

After parking it is an easy hike along the old jeep road. The total distance from where you park to the ruin is less than a half mile.

The jeep road comes to an end at some slickrock where you have to hunt around for the cairns that mark the route into the canyon. The better route into the canyon might be through the side canyon on the left. We have seen photos of hikers going that way and it didn't look too bad.

Loose rocks and dirt make the descent along this route a bit tedious but it will get you to the ruin in 15-20 minutes if you don't slip and bust your butt. The incredible scenery of the upper end of Butler Wash beckons you into its midst. As Tower Ruin begins coming into view the desire to get to the bottom becomes even greater.

If you had your eye on the alcove as you came down the hill it isn't too hard to figure out which way to go once you reach the wash.

The main alcove has a large kiva that is mostly blown in with sand.

The back wall is lined with sharpening grooves and petroglyphs. If you look closely at this figure you can see it has 'Freddy Kruger' like hands. Makes you wonder if they actually fashioned something like that as a weapon and what they would have used in place of metal.

A well preserved granary sits on the same ledge as the Tower Ruin with a sign that says to 'keep out'. There were a few other rooms on the ledge and maybe one built up against it but they are mostly rubble now.

The tower itself is two stories high with one room on top of another. There is no way to tell if they had access through the roof to a work area like you find at some pueblos. There isn't a sign that says to keep out of the tower but it doesn't make any sense to risk damaging such a fine structure. If you bump one of those logs that are dangling down from the between floor you're likely to bring the whole thing down on top of you.

There are some petroglyphs and pictographs along the face of the cliff between the granary and the tower. This one looks like it may have been pecked and then painted.

We didn't see a spring in the area so the site must have gotten its water by capturing runoff from the spillover above the alcove. There is a pothole below the pouroff where they may have placed pots or at least filled them to store water for later use. If you have ever been in one of these canyons during a rainstorm you will know that places like this become gushing waterfalls.

We probably should have hiked back up the side canyon that we showed as an alternate route on the return trip so that we could see what that was like. We are planning to return at some point so that we can hike further down the canyon so maybe we will take that route then. The Tower ruin has a lot going for it that makes it a great site to visit. While we didn't see anyone else until we got back to our vehicle there did seem to be a lot of fresh tracks on the trail. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.