Hotel Rock

Round Trip Distance: 6.8 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 4980 - 6126 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 3 hrs. 45 mins.
Trailhead: Hotel Rock
Fee: none
Attractions: Ruins

Hotel Rock is a prominent sandstone outcrop that rises from the shrub-steppe in the highlands above Comb Wash west of Blanding, Utah. A number of well preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwelling  ruins can be found nestled on a ledge beneath an overhang on the east facing side of Hotel Rock as well as a couple of small granaries on the west side.

To get to the trailhead drive 4 miles south from Blanding on Highway 191 and turn right on Highway 95 toward Natural Bridges National Monument. Follow Highway 95 for 14.3 miles and turn right into Comb Wash onto County Road 229. (A signpost is marked with 205. The turnoff is just past a road on the left that leads to a campground and lower Comb Wash.) Follow the dirt road for about 2.3 miles. There are a few primitive campsites on public land near the highway and some near the trailhead. Most everything else is private property on both sides of the dirt road.

Continue across the creek at the 2.3 mile point. For much of the year the water is low enough that it doesn't require a high clearance vehicle.

A little past the creek crossing turn left onto an unmarked road and if hiking find a suitable place to park out of the way.

After leaving the Comb Wash Road the trail quickly turns into a high clearance 4wd only road that gets pretty gnarly in places. From the time the trail starts climbing it doesn't relent at all for the first couple of miles other than a few small dips. Before reaching the first Arch Canyon overlook the trail turns sharply to the right. It's easy to miss the turn so keep an eye out on your right for a couple of cairns.

As the trail climbs away from Comb Wash it continually looks like you are about to get to the top but as soon as you reach the current horizon another one appears that is even higher. If you have our GPX track loaded onto your GPS device or GPS cellphone app you won't be fooled by the allusion.

Somewhere past the 2 mile point the trail leaves most of the slickrock behind and continues on a nice red dirt track where eventually Hotel Rock can be seen in the distance.

If you decide to go 4-wheeling to Hotel Rock you will probably want something that is no wider than a jeep or bronco due to several narrow spots. The trail has a rating of 5 according to one website we found it listed on.

A little scramble is all it takes for an up close look at the ruins.

Several of the structures are remarkably in near perfect condition. Be sure not to touch them and definitely keep out of them so they can stay as nice as they are. There is a nice museum of shards near the midden at the bottom of the rock where you can get an idea of the different types of pottery they used.

High up on the west side of Hotel Rock beneath another overhang are a couple of small granaries. They are a little hard to see from below without a pair of binoculars.

If you go to a couple of the overlooks or hike all the way around Hotel Rock you will want to add a half mile or so to the round trip distance. It's hard to imagine how mountain biking this trail would be any fun at all. You would probably have to hike your bike the first couple of miles going up and it's steep enough that most of that stretch would be hard to ride coming back.  We did see a couple of 4-wheel drives stopped at the arch overlook. They mentioned they like doing this trail regularly. It's a pretty good workout on foot but the ruins and overlooks are nice enough for it to be well worthwhile. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.