The Castle

Round Trip Distance: 600 ft. - 0.7 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5357 - 5387 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: The Castle
Fee: none
Attractions: Cliff dwelling, rock art

The Castle cliff dwelling is located along UT-276 about 65 miles west of Blanding, Utah and 22 miles east of Halls Crossing. Nearby springs and the intermittent Castle Creek provide the only water to the otherwise parched desert other than what may have been captured as runoff from storms. The ruin consists of a multi-room cliff dwelling that is nestled within a south facing alcove that sits about 30 feet above the wash.

Some parts of the unmarked parking area have sand that is deep enough to stick some 2wd vehicles. Careful drivers should have no trouble avoiding the sand. From the parking area it is only about 300 feet across the wash to the ruin.

It does take a little scrambling to get up the talus on the other side of this sandy hill in front of the alcove.

The rooms were all built in the east end of the alcove where the overhang made a nice flat natural roof where the walls could be extended all the way up to the rock creating a seal to trap in heat. The west end of the alcove had seepage from the crack in the top of the alcove and was more of a work area.

The nice thing about using boulders and the floor of the alcove itself for grinding corn and such is that unlike metates they can't be hauled off by collectors.

The room on the left still has a lot of plaster on the outside. One of the walls is almost completely covered from top to bottom. A few visitors have unfortunately scratched their names into the plaster. When you look at the walls that are only one stone thick they look very flimsy. It seems a wonder that there are still this much of them standing.

There are quite a few petroglyphs and pictographs in the alcove.

This pictograph shows 4 figures with backpacks that unlike the traditional kokopelli images with backpacks are minus the flutes. The backpacks do give the impression that they were traders from who knows where.

The west end of the alcove has some rather deep holes drilled into the rock. We've seen these in other cliff dwellings where they were used to capture water. We've also seen where holes like this were made to hold poles that were then used as sighting, or shadow, sticks to create a calendar.

On the far west wall of the alcove are a couple of well preserved wet charcoal pictographs.

More pictographs and petroglyphs can be found on the cliffs and boulders further west of the Castle Ruin.

The last ones that we noticed were almost a half mile away but you get the impression that there could be scores more throughout the area.

Sitting right next to the highway the Castle Ruins are pretty easy to spot. We had been asked about them in the past and noticed them while driving to Moqui Canyon to see some other ruins and petroglyphs. The Castle is a little out of the way for anyone not heading to or from Lake Powell but since it is all paved highway it makes for a nice something to do while visiting the Cedar Mesa. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.