Pothunters Alcove

Round Trip Distance: 1.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 4585 - 4686 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Butler Wash Rd. MM 5.8
Fee: $5/person/day
Attractions: petroglyphs, pictographs

This post is for a rubble pile cliff dwelling in the Butler Wash/Comb Ridge area near Bluff, Utah. Knowing no other common name for the site we dubbed it the 'Pothunters Alcove' to draw attention to the unscrupulous behavior of those that illegally dig about ruins in search of artifacts. Signs of such past activity are apparent at this particular site. Even though the former cliff dwelling in the alcove has been reduced to piles of rubble there are yet some very interesting petroglyphs and pictographs that are well worth seeing.

To get there from Bluff drive 4 miles west of town and turn right onto the Butler Wash Road across from the turnoff to the airport. There is a fee station and restrooms at the 1 mile point of the Butler Wash Road.

The unmarked trailhead is at the 5.8 mile point of the Butler Wash Road from Highway 163. The crux of the hike is getting across Butler Wash where no really good route seems apparent. The wash is deep in this area and the banks are steep. The best route that we found was to drop into the wash and pass beneath the cottonwoods in this photo. From there try to stay mostly to the left to reach a relatively easy place to climb out on the other side of the wash.

Once out of the wash and on level ground aim for the mouth of the canyon on the left.

Hiking up the canyon from the mouth is easy and pleasant.

A short climb leads up from the wash to the alcove where, at first, nothing of much interest seems obvious.

A closer look at the boulders reveals some interesting petroglyphs. Dots pecked into the rock representing raindrops are falling from the line that runs across the top of the boulder. The over all theme of the boulders appears to deal with the supplication for rain.

Other images and metates can be found on a few of the larger boulders.

Various pictographs can be spotted all along the back wall of the alcove.

The head of this image can barely be seen. You might also notice it is wearing a small necklace.

A good number of handprints are also present with newer images overlapping the others. Although mostly faded there are a few that are either green, orange or white mixed in with all of those that are red.

The places within the alcove where pothunters have dug through the rubble are obvious. In some ways the act is on par with robbing graves as human bones and burials have been found at many of these sites that have been properly studied by archeologists. Most every site in the area was piphered long ago with many of the artifacts being hauled off to places like Huck's Museum and Trading Post in Blanding or sold to private collectors.

It would be nice if every archaeological site had signage to remind visitors that it is illegal to dig or do anything at all to disturb these resources and to raise their conscience to the immorality of the action. It is also illegal to remove even the smallest of articles that may be found on the surface such as grinding stones and pieces of pottery. Hopefully what was once so openly condoned in the area can be seen for what it is and at last become abhorred enough to cease. The more people keeping an eye on these out of the way sites the less likely pothunters will be able to operate with impunity. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.