Dry Wash Overlook

Round Trip Distance: 0.2 - 14 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5774 - 6265 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: UT-95 MM 101
Fee: none
Attractions: cliff dwelling, pueblo

The Dry Wash Overlook is at the end of San Juan County Road 236 on Balley (Ballies) Mesa west of Blanding, Utah. Besides great views of Comb Ridge from the west visitors can also see a small, well intact, cliff dwelling that is tucked away within an alcove below the rim and the Dry Wash Overlook Pueblo with its 4 towers and enclosing wall on the top of the mesa.

To get there from Blanding drive south on US-191 for 4 miles and turn onto UT-95 toward Natural Bridges National Monument. Continue for another 20 miles and turn left onto San Juan County Road 236. There is a restroom at the Mule Canyon Ruins a short distance before the turnoff onto CR-236.

Some maps will show CR-236 as the Lower Balley Mesa Road. During good conditions the first 6 miles or so of the road are passable by 2wd vehicles with a normal amount of ground clearance. Stay on the main road until you reach the 5.6 mile point and turn right. Currently there is a square post on the right side of the road at the turnoff. About 100 feet past the turnoff on the left is a metal post that is a dry hole marker at a former drill site.

After making the turn the road passes another well site with a dry hole marker. From that point on the road quickly begins to deteriorate. A high clearance vehicle is required past the 6 mile point but not necessarily one with 4wd. We would suggest 2wd vehicles without high clearance park at the second well site or somewhere nearby and walk the last mile or so to the overlook. That said, we have helped stuck motorist in the Cedar Mesa area that had no business driving off the pavement so we recommend that you have some off highway driving experience. The ground is very sandy and you can't stop and turn around just anywhere.

From the overlook you can look down on your left and see the cliff dwelling in the alcove below the rim. This site includes several granaries and purportedly has 5 rooms. There is a natural spring just to the east of the cliff dwelling.

Petroglyphs can be seen on one of the boulders that has a structure perched on its top side.

A few hundred feet to the east, on top of the mesa, is the Dry Wash Overlook Pueblo.

Four towers dominate the site which is enclosed on three sides by a short wall.

On the cliff face below the rim just outside the east wall are a series of steps that would have provided a way to climb up an down between the cliff dwellings and the top of the mesa. The steps were probably made by smashing a rock against the cliff until the desired result was obtained. Just below the steps there is a pile of stones with a flat rock on top that forms a landing.

The pueblo site is enclosed with a fence that was constructed to keep cattle from rubbing up against and damaging the walls. The gate doesn't latch very well in its current condition so we would suggest that if you are planning a visit that maybe you could bring along a short piece of chain or wire to help keep it closed.

We parked within a quarter mile of the overlook on this day. We could have driven the rest of the way but we were traveling alone and there were no other vehicles in the area to provide any assistance if necessary. Besides that we were getting tired of driving over the uneven slickrock that makes up the last mile of the road and its a nice hike anyway.

On the way back out to Highway 95 there is an interesting rock shelter that you might want to spend a few minutes at. It is located right along side of the road. Beneath the overhang the ground has a covering of grass or straw. A few little shards of pottery can be spotted in places. Please remember that those potsherds are considered artifacts and it is illegal to remove them. The Cedar Mesa area has a rich history as denoted by its many archeological sites. The Dry Wash Overlook is one of the places that you can visit that isn't especially difficult to access. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.