Over Under Ruins

Round Trip Distance: 2.1 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 5733 - 6079 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 3 hrs.
Trailhead: Over Under (unmarked)
Fee: none
Attractions: Cliff dwellings, rock art

The Over Under Ruins are located in the Cedar Mesa/Comb Ridge area west of Blanding, Utah. The site includes four alcoves that all contain Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings. Two of the alcoves are stacked, one on top of the other, and make up what are commonly known as the Over Under Ruins. Each ruin requires some minor scrambling for up close examination as well as some hiking on a scree and talus slope with loose dirt.

The easiest route to the Over Under Ruins is to drive about 4 miles south from Blanding on US-191 and turn west on UT-95 toward Natural Bridges National Monument. Continue for 6.2 miles and turn right onto the Cottonwood Road across from mile marker 115. There are a few primitive campsites along the road, some of which have room for RVs, until you reach the stretch that travels through the reservation where everything is posted 'No trespassing'.

The first mile of the Cottonwood Road is paved after which it turns into a well maintained county road. Follow it for 4.9 miles and bear left onto the Elk Ridge Road. An alternate route would be to follow the Elk Ridge Road all the way from Blanding which comes out to about 10.6 miles to reach this same intersection.

After turning onto the Elk Ridge Road continue for another 5.8 miles and turn left making it a total of 10.7 miles from UT-95. The trailhead isn't marked but there is an open area where you can park that has enough room to turn a trailer around. We always discourage camping right at a trailhead but if you do then try to stay well out of the way so that others have room to park and don't end up having to walk through your camp to get to the trail.

From the parking area near the Elk Ridge Road follow the 4wd road heading south.

The road gets rough near the end if you are thinking about driving it. Keep hiking from the end of the road out onto a long slickrock sandstone ridge.

After a very short distance you will be able to look down into the canyon on the left side of the ridge and see the Over Under Ruin. Continue hiking along the ridge until you reach a cairn that marks the trail that descends down to the wash. Besides the loose scree on the trail there are 2 ledgy spots where  unless you are young and studly you might need to sit down and scoot over.

Directly across from where the trail reaches the wash you can scramble up to Ruin 2.

There are a few pictographs at Ruin 2 that include painted hands and a black grid pattern of squares. There are also a few petroglyphs one of which looks like a representation of the nearby Abajo, or Blue Mountains.

Ruin 3 is harder to get up to but it is a little larger than Ruin 2 and has it's own interesting attractions.

There is an interesting white pictograph of interconnected rectangular lines that is similar to patterns seen on pottery and other sites throughout the southwest. We traced the lines in this photo so they would show up better but they are still noticeable in their natural form when you visit the site.

The lower alcove of the Over Under ruins is the only one that is accessible to hikers. One of the rooms in the lower alcove was originally 2 stories high.

Here too you can find an assortment of pictographs and other things like several metates ground into the surface a boulder.

The upper alcove can be seen well enough from across the canyon. Notice that at one time it had a row of rooms out near the edge of the alcove. Off to the left there was also a large open area between the main block or rooms and another room or granary that is tucked away in the corner of the alcove.

The Over Under Ruins are relatively easy to get to and that makes them a little more popular. We did see a jeep from out of state that had driven down to the end of the 4wd road and then left the area not knowing that they were within a hundred yards walking distance of the overlook. Many of the side roads like this one do lead to sites that are worth visiting but they usually require at least some hiking. The hike down into the canyon isn't the most pleasant of routes but if you like exploring ruins and rock art it's well worth the trouble. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.