Upper Butler Wash & Target Ruin

Cedar Mesa

Hiking Upper Butler Wash & Target Ruin - Cedar Mesa Hiking Upper Butler Wash & Target Ruin
Cedar Mesa


TICKS & TODOS: 12 Todo Lists / 3 Ticks
RATING: Easy Hiking
LENGTH: 1 hour for the tourist ruins, 2-4 for the other ruins
MAPS: Hotel Rock, UT
WATER: None.

With ruins dating from 500-1300AD, and easy access, Upper Butler Wash provides a great outing. This is a highly recommended hike that should be accessible to most anyone. Due to its short nature, and easy access from the highway, this is also an excellent choice during inclement weather.

Note: Indian ruins are very old archeological artifacts, some dating back well over 1000 years. Please be very respectful when visiting them. Do not touch petroglyphs or pictographs, as this results in damage. Also, please leave any artifacts you may find as you found them. Without careful preservation, these site can be destroyed. Follow the adage, "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints."

Getting There

Sun Hi:81 Lo:50 Mon Hi:81 Lo:51 Tue Hi:81 Lo:50 Wed Hi:81 Lo:51 Thu Hi:83 Lo:54

To reach the trailhead, go south out of Blanding about 3.5 miles until the junction with Highway 95. Follow Highway 95 about 10.6 miles until crossing a bridge over Butler Wash. This is the trailhead for the main ruins, park at a small pullout on the west side of the bridge. (just before milepost 111) To reach the tourist ruins, continue just past milepost 111, to a signed paved road on the right. Follow this a short distance to the trailhead where parking and pit toilets are available.


Tourist Ruins
To reach the tourist ruins, simply follow the signed trail. It is a short hike, less than 1-mile round trip. There are some interpretative guides at the trailhead. Be sure to pick one up, as it provides great information about the area and the hike. The trail ends at an overlook where you can see several ruins down below.

Upper Butler Wash Ruins
For the Upper Butler Wash Ruins, cross the fence on the north side of the bridge from the trailhead. There is a trail register here. Follow the well-worn trail about 5-10 minutes to where the canyon and trail forks. Go left here, following the canyon bottom up as it deepens and turns to slickrock. About 30-45 minutes from the trailhead, you will see ruins on the left. The first ones you come to are quite impressive. Just up canyon about 5 minutes from the first set of ruins is a second, equally interesting set of ruins. Be careful climbing the rickety ladder to reach them.

As you return from the ruins, watch for a side trail leaving the canyon on the right about 5 minutes down from the last ruin. This short side trail (5-10 minutes) climbs steeply up the bank, then levels out to a small side canyon. In this side canyon, on the north side, are some great ruins. They are not reachable from the ground. If you look closely, though, on the west wall, you can see a target painted. These are often referred to as the Target Ruin because of this painting. Also, notice in the slickrock below them two shallow holes. Presumably these were used to hold the bottom of a ladder in place for the Indians to access the ruins.

Return the way you came.

12S 620796mE 4153877mN Tourist Ruin Trailhead
12S 621113mE 4154121mN Trailhead
12S 620308mE 4154717mN Target Ruin
12S 620249mE 4154948mN Small Ruin
12S 620149mE 4155152mN Ruin
12S 620104mE 4155264mN Ruin 2


Printable Maps:



  1. by: Dermot 2016-03-06 03:56:28.0
    We hiked up the Butler Wash ruins today. We had been here before but had not made it all the way back and I wanted to find a trail up to them. Eventually down canyon from the end about 50 yards there was a scramble that took me up there. NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. In fact at one point I heard a kid at the overlook across the canyon yell out "He's going to Fall" which did not make my wife waiting below very comfortable. I yelled out to her that I was fine. Eventually made it to the top to see the ruins first hand. VERY nice, took pictures but had to leave early. Forgot my radio which my wife and I use when I go off somewhere and I had no water. Trying to travel light. No lithics, no art, lots of charcoal but I wasn't there long. We'd already done Target and Ballroom today as well. There was a lip all along the ruin level that gradually dropped down throught the other lenses to a short trailabout 200 yardsdowntstream from where I went up. Going down was easy in the soft dirt, going up would have been tough.

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