2 Story Moki House

Round Trip Distance: 2.1 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 5563 - 5683 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Lower/Upper 2 Story
Fee: none
Attractions: cliff dwelling, rock art

The 2 Story Moki House is located in a side canyon of the main branch of Whiskers Draw which can be found in the Bears Ears National Monument west of Blanding, Utah. The ruin consists of  a central square tower stack of rooms that has other rooms connected to it on both sides.

To get there turn north off of UT-95 onto the Cottonwood Road.  At the 6.2 mile point go left onto the Elk Mountain Road. At the 9.1 mile point from UT-95 turn left onto CR#229 the Whiskers Draw Road.

Follow the Whiskers Draw Road for 2.5 miles and turn right. There is a dip in the road as it crosses the North Fork of Whiskers Draw that might require a medium to high clearance vehicle or a little shovel work. We have seen this dip full of running water during spring runoff.

Once you turn off of the Whiskers Draw Road the route is more suitable for high clearance 4wd vehicles. At the point of the turnoff you will be on Ute Land. If you want to park and begin hiking you will need to follow this side road for several hundred feet before you are once again on public land. We marked two trailheads on the map. To get to the second trailhead requires driving through a narrow alley of brush that will scratch the narrowest of vehicles. Once you get through the brush there is a good place to park on the left at the base of the hill in this photo.

From the parking place begin hiking up the hill for 300 hundred feet until you are almost at the crown of the first hump. Look for a faint trail on the right that leads down into the wash. From above it looks like it comes to an end at the slickrock above the wash but once you get closer you will see the easy to descend trail on the left. If you parked at the first trailhead that we marked on the map all you have to do is begin hiking up the wash. We have taken both routes in the past.

From whichever place that you entered the wash find the best route that you can through the tall growth of grass and weeds. There are existing trails to follow but they are overgrown in places and hard to pick out. Eventually you will come to where a deep side wash connects on the right. We've never tried hiking up the side wash so we can't speak to whether it is passable or not. Just to the left of the side wash there is a steep, but easy to climb, trail that leads up to the higher ground. That is the route that we have always taken.

Once you get out of the wash all you have to do is follow along it on the higher ground. Eventually you will come to where another wash comes in and that you can easily hike around on the left side. As you are hiking across the sagebrush bench you will notice one large alcove on the opposite side of the wash that looks hard to get to but it is shielded by trees and oakbrush so you can't tell if it contains any ruins. There is another large alcove a little further along that is high up on the same opposite side of the wash that is also hard to see within. The alcove with the 2 Story Moki House is up ahead on the left. From here the view is blocked by the trees.

After picking out a route through the tall brush it is easy enough to hike up into the alcove with the ruins.

Here you can see about 4 rooms that were built in the left side of the tower block.

You can also see that there wasn't that much of an overhang to the rather shallow alcove. The water that poured over the alcove when it rained landed directly in front of the doorway of the 2 story portion of the ruin. You could literally place a pot right outside of the door to catch the water with. (It had rained hard the previous night and we could see where the water had spilled over the alcove.)

Burnt logs are all that remain of the between floors of the 2 story portion of the ruin. Looking in the rooms on the sides you can see where the logs poking out of the walls were all burnt off and that there are burnt logs lying about on the ground. It appears that all the rooms were set on fire when the site was abandoned or that the site was abandoned because all of the rooms were purposely set on fire. It's hard to imagine each isolated room catching fire accidently and being so thoroughly burned.

Pictographs can be seen on the back walls in places. Most of them, like these painted hands, are mostly worn away.

Besides a few petroglyphs on the back wall of the alcove there are patterns inscribed upon several of the rocks that are imbedded in the walls.

The large variety of decorated pottery might suggest trading with other areas. Some pieces are burnt orange, some brown, some black and white, and others that are different shades of grey. Some decorated with paint and some not. Remember that it is illegal to dig for or remove any of these artifacts.

Where the route travels through the sagebrush above the washes there is a lot of cheatgrass and stickseed. For that reason long pants or gators will save you from ruining a good pair of hiking socks. I wore my rattlesnake gators since that is what I carry in the truck even though there were no signs of rattlesnakes or even gopher snakes. The gators are so thick that they actually make it nice for walking through brush. We got the approximate location for this ruin out of one of Michael Kelsey's books. He called it the '2 Story Moki House' so that is what we went with to save a little confusion. From this same trailhead you can hike just over a half mile up another draw to see an old pueblo site and what we call the Black Cave Ruin. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.