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Hiking to the Seven Kivas Ruin via Shortcut Route

The Seven Kivas Ruin is located in Cedar Mesa, off Cigarette Springs Road. A kiva is a subterranean ceremonial chamber, and have been central to Native spiritual traditions since ancient times. The interesting thing about kivas, is that one of them could serve a single family. To have seven kivas in one area meant this site was used for something very sacred. There are very few ruins in this area, so when a ceremony would happen, families would have to travel far to reach this site. The other interesting part is that these kivas are located under a shallow, exposed alcove - exposed to the harsh weather conditions. In the bottom of each kiva was a sipapu, or small hole or depression which symbolized the portal through which the original humans first entered the world. 

Exploring the Comb Ridge Canyons & Ruins, Cedar Mesa

Comb Ridge is a 90-mile long Navajo sandstone ridge (or monocline) running North to South, and is home to many ancestral ruins and petroglyphs that date back around 800 years old. Comb Ridge itself has a gentle eastern facing slopes, while the west side has "teeth" that jut out and above the ridge line. Each of these "teeth" contain drainages that lead to the San Juan River. The Puebloans' lived, farmed in this area, and left behind a massive amount of ruins and artifacts. Drought, overpopulation, diminishing resources, erosion, and conflict eventually brought an end to this era.

Hiking to Castle Rock, Stansbury Island

Castle Rock (6,649 ft) is the highest summit on Stansbury Island, just West of Salt Lake City. It's the second largest island in the Great Salt Lake, and was named after Howard Stansbury who led the expedition in the area. Stansbury Island is a fun geological feature as well - it is dotted with shale, limestone, and dolomite rock. A large part of the island is private property, and used by cattle ranchers. It's very important to stay out of the private area -it is routinely watched by land owners and crossing into that area serves a large fine. Hiking this route to Castle Rock will keep you out of the private land, so you can still make the summit to this desert-like peak.

Soaking at Crystal Hot Springs, Hot Springs in Utah

Crystal Hot Springs is a natural hot springs in Northern Utah that ranges from 120-134 degrees F. The swimming pools are regulated so that you can soak in a range of temperatures from 98-105F. Crystal Hot Springs also contains the highest mineral content found in the world! It has roughly 46,000 mg/L - the average hot spring has closer to 1,000 mg/L. You'll notice this mineral content, as you lick your lips or wipe your hands over your face - it's very salty tasting. Get ready to soak in a 22,000 year old hot spring!


Backpacking Halls Creek Narrows, Capitol Reef National Park

Hiking Halls Creek Narrows is located within Capitol Reef National Park, only a few miles North from Lake Powell. This area of the park sits between the high cliffs of Hall Mesa on the East, and the Waterpocket Fold on the West. As you backpack towards Halls Creek Drainage (aka Grand Gulch), you'll be surrounded by red, white, and orange slick rock, all while hiking through a mostly sandy trail. The trail is easy to follow, and you can't really get lost as you aim South for 9.3 miles. However, there are plenty of side slot canyons to explore as well.

Hiking to the Butler Wash Ruins, Cedar Mesa

The Butler Wash Ruins are only a 20 minute drive West of Blanding, UT and is only 1 mile RT, so it makes for a great "get-out-and-stretch-your-legs" hike. This is more of a walk, rather than a hike. It is a popular archeological site, and viewing these ruins from the overlook can often be crowded. It's a great place for kids and dogs to get out and walk as well, but keep in mind the day time temperatures are often hot and can easily burn paws. Carry at least 1 water bottle with you here. The best time of day for photos are morning to mid-day so that the light shines on the ruins.