Slickhorn East Fork First Ruin

Round Trip Distance: 0.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 6123 - 6186 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Slickhorn East Fork
Fee: $5/day, $10/week/person
Attractions: cliff dwelling

This cliff dwelling is the first ruin that can be found in the main branch of the East Fork of Slickhorn Canyon in the Cedar Mesa area west of Blanding, Utah. The ruin is completely hidden from view other than from certain points along the east rim of the canyon. It can easily be visited along with the short hikes to the Bighorn Ruins and the Caprock Ruin while in the area or the longer hike down the East Fork that takes in some other sites.

For turn by turn directions you can enter 'Slickhorn Canyon East Fork' into your driving app being aware that Google doesn't have the greatest sense of what roads in the area are still in use and sometimes pointts out obviously bogus turns on UT-261. Basically, from the Kane Gulch Ranger Station, head south on UT-261 for about 10 miles. At the Cigarette Springs sign turn right onto the unmarked Slick Horn Road. There is a pay stations near the 1 mile point where you can register and pay the usage fee. Stay left near the 2.6 mile point where the road to the Government trail branches off on the right.

Continue for another 7.2 miles where the road reaches an expanse of slickrock and there is this very noticeable ring of rocks at the otherwise unmarked trailhead. In dry weather 2wd vehicles can normally make it okay up to this point depending on how long it has been since the road was last graded. Beyond this point toward the Caprock Ruin the road is high clearance 4wd and somewhere enroute becomes the Point Lookout Road depending on what map you are using.

From the slickrock parking area head toward where the wash spills over into the canyon.

From the top of the spillover the ruin will be just below the canyon rim on the right maybe 150 yards away although it isn't visible from this point.

Walk in that direction and a route down into the head of the canyon becomes obvious.

Without getting too far below the rim work your way around on the right to where these logs appear to be blocking the way. Staying at the same level continue over the logs and across the stretch of grass that will be moist from a natural seep.

After crossing the grassy seep the rest of the route becomes much easier. 

The cliff dwelling is  just around the corner only about a hundred feet or so from that point.

Two of the rooms are in near perfect condition. There is at least one laminated paper reminding visitors not to enter the rooms.

There is a short wall of dry stacked rocks that fences off an area in front of the rooms. Perhaps at one time it was higher and formed a defensive wall but it looks like something a person could construct to help keep a toddler away from the ledge. (My mother used a leash.)

From the first ruin a person can continue down canyon to some more ruins and petroglyphs. As you head down canyon a short distance there is a spillover that is bypassed on the right. Where the route transitions down one of the benches there is a drop that looked like more than what I could reclimb by myself so I turned around at that point thinking to make another attempt to the rest of the ruins via a side canyon that is south of the Caprock Ruin. Time will tell how that works out. As far as what we are calling the First Ruin, if you would like to see it for yourself all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.