Fish Mouth Cave

Butler Wash

Butler Wash and other lesser-known ancestral Puebloan sites in the Four Corners area complement the better-known sites like Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelly.  Butler Wash begins near the north end of Comb Ridge and runs south along its eastern side to San Juan River, with ruins all along its length.  The two trailheads in the upper wash map are 14 miles southwest of Blanding on Utah Scenic Byway 95.  There are around 50 significant canyons off Comb Ridge, many of them are unexplored in this less-travelled area, so more archaeological sites remain to be discovered.  Other lesser- known sites featured on Scenic Color Country include Cedar Mesa, Nine Mile Canyon, and the really unknown Santa Clara River Reserve.

Butler Wash Ruins are cliff dwellings that were built and occupied by ancestral Puebloans about 1200 AD.  The site on the north has been stabilized and reconstructed to some degree, but most of it remains as it was found in the 1800s.  These structures represent the full range of daily activities: habitation, farming, ceremonial, hunting, storage, and tool making.  There are many undocumented canyons and caves in the area, particularly west of Comb Ridge throughout Cedar Mesa, all begging to be found/explored.

Confusion may occur because Butler Wash ruins are relatively unknown - the BLM only discusses the cliff dwellings off U95 on the north as if it is the only location (but they do maintain trails to Wolfman Panel), while others only know about Wolfman Panel off US163 on the south near Bluff, Utah.  A partial list of ruins along Butler Wash includes Double Stack Ruin, Procession Panel, Fishmouth Cave, Monarch Cave, and Lower Butler Wash ruins.  And yet more confusion may occur with another Butler Wash, and Butler Canyon, coming out of the Henry Mountains in North Wash with no known archaeological sites.  Both are on the other side of Colorado River and Lake Powell, 85 and 96 miles farther northwest on U95.  And yet another Butler Canyon in Utah is to the north along Green River.  North Wash is known for many technical slot canyons, one as narrow as 2" (5cm) with a substantial drainage (Sandthrax).  More information about North Wash slots is in Scenic Byway 95/North Wash.

The Photo Gallery contains photos of ruins and rock art in Butler Wash with an auto-show of the photos, ending with a wide (panoramic) view of the Procession Panel.

Trails Maps:  The Butler Wash map (cut from Cedar Mesa map) shows Comb Ridge, Butler Wash, Comb Wash, canyons including Mule Canyon and a bunch of others off Comb Wash and inside Cedar Mesa showing many ruins sites, Upper Wash map is a topo with trails to several ruins, Lower Wash map is a topo with good trail info to Wolfman and some Cliff Dwellings, Lower Wash trail from Mary Cokenour provides mileages from US163 to ruins up Butler Wash, and River House trail shows the River trail along the San Juan with the trail up Butler Wash (its info can be read when magnified).