MIC Lecture Series

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Delicate Arch

Arches National Park - Like Nowhere Else on Earth

Corona Arch

Moab Utah - Surprises Around Every Corner

Comb Ridge

Cedar Mesa - Feel the Wildness

 

Cedar Mesa

Cedar Mesa

Cedar Mesa is popular for hiking and backpacking to see Ancestral Puebloan cliff ruins and rock art in a natural setting. The remote, primitive setting makes it a wonderful area to enjoy the scenery and wildlife, as well as the solitude of desert canyons. Grand Gulch canyon cuts into the mesa's western flank, while canyons on the eastern edge are part of the of Shash Jaa' Unit of the Bears Ears National Monument. The Cedar Mesa area was inhabited by Ancestral Puebloans between 700 and 2,000 years ago with many ancient dwellings, farming areas and rock art sites still remaining to be explored. If you visit, please treat everything you find with care and respect, and leave no trace of your visit. Most canyons and cultural sites can only be reached by hiking or backpacking.

There are no facilities here except for a few sites along the State Route 95 corridor, the Kane Gulch Ranger Station, and the Bullet, and Fish and Owl trailheads. There is limited seasonal drinking water available during business hours at the ranger station, but no trash receptacles. There are no campgrounds on the mesa. Car camping is primitive and is often accessed along roads requiring high-clearance vehicles. Hiking is on slickrock canyon ledges and along wash bottoms and primitive footpaths. There are no constructed trails or directional signs along the hiking routes. No wood or charcoal fires are allowed in any of the Cedar Mesa canyons.

Map and Directions

Access to the area is from State Highway 95 (SR 95) between Blanding and Hite, or on SR 261 between SR 95 and Mexican Hat. The Kane Gulch Ranger Station is open spring and fall, and is located on SR 261 about four miles south of the junction with SR 95. The Grand Gulch trailhead is adjacent to the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. You will find a paved parking lot and restroom at the ranger station. Dirt roads lead to many trailheads at the heads of canyons and at the mouths of some canyons draining off the east side of the mesa into Comb Wash. Many of these roads can be recommended only for high-clearance vehicles and may be impassible when wet.

Things to Know

 

Permits: A permit is required year-round for day use, overnight backpacking, and stock use in these Cedar Mesa canyons and their tributaries: Grand Gulch, Slickhorn Canyon, Fish Canyon, Owl Canyon, North and South Forks of Mule Canyon, Road Canyon, and Lime Creek. A day-use permit is also required to visit Moon House Ruin.

No permits are required for mesa top car camping on Cedar Mesa.

Day-use permits (year-round): With the exception of Moon House Ruin, day-use permits must be obtained upon arrival at self-pay fee tubes at trailheads and other kiosk locations on the mesa top; no reservations are required.

High-use season (March 1 through June 15 and September 1 through October 31):

Overnight backpacking permits: Reservations for overnight backpacking permits are available at www.recreation.gov.

Moon House Ruin day-use permits: Issued on a first come, first-served basis. A maximum of 20 visitors are permitted per day. A permit may be reserved at www.recreation.gov.

Low-use season (June 16 through August 31 and November 1 through February 28):

Overnight backpacking permits: May be obtained at the trailheads and other kiosk locations on Cedar Mesa; no reservations are required.

Moon House Ruin day-use permits: Must be obtained upon arrival at a self-pay fee tube at the trailhead; no reservations are required. 

Visit the Utah Bureau of Land Management Cedar Mesa permits web page for more detailed information. 

Water: All water sources are intermittent and should not be counted on.

Pets: Pets are not allowed in Grand Gulch, Slickhorn, or tributary canyons.

Please treat this special place with respect and leave no trace of your visit. The use of rock climbing equipment to access archaeological sites is not allowed. Moving or disturbing cultural artifacts from any location is unlawful.

Camping: No camping is allowed at any ruins, rock art sites or alcoves. Please use an established campsite and avoid impacting undisturbed areas. Campfires are not allowed in Cedar Mesa canyons. Disposal of human waste is not permitted within 200 feet of a water source, trail, or campsite. Please don't wash, bath or swim in streams or potholes.