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Monday, March 28, 2016

VIDEO: House On Fire Ruins - South Fork Mule Canyon

House On Fire Ruins

I had no idea that southeastern Utah was home to so many ancient ruins.  I wasn't really aware of Utah's ancient Pueblan history until my visit to Capitol Reef when I saw the petroglyphs carved into the walls.  While visiting Natural Bridges National Monument I saw the amazing horse collar ruins along the canyon walls.  A trip to Mule Canyon provided more amazing ruins in several different spots along canyon walls.  There aren't many places left where you can walk right up to a ruin (still intact in its natural location).  The most notable and famous set of ruins in this area is the House On Fire ruins in the South Fork of Mule Canyon, Cedar Mesa. 

House On Fire Ruins
House On Fire Ruins

The ruins were built by the Anasazi people (also known as the ancient Pueblan people). 
Out of all the ruins we visited in southeastern Utah, this one was the most iconic.  The way the structure was built into the canyon wall makes the structure look like the roof of the house is on fire.  And when you hit this ruin at a certain point in the day, the light hits the canyon rock and the ruin lights up with a fiery glow. If you want to see the "house on fire" you need a clear day, and to see the ruin at late morning. 

Ruins along the hike 

Because the ruin is well known, and a relatively short hike (0.9 miles each way, just under 2 miles round trip), you wont be alone on this hike. However, if you want solitude, you can pass this ruin and keep hiking up the canyon.  If you continue past House On Fire, you will follow the trail crossing the stream as you go. 

During my research, I saw that there are about 8 ruins along this canyon.  I hiked about 2.5 miles up the canyon and saw a second set of ruins.  Other hikers posted about hiking four miles up the canyon and seeing 7 of the 8 ruins (see the ruins marked on the map during the next section).  

House On Fire Ruins
River on the House On Fire Ruins hike

- - - - - - - - - - - - -Distance- - - - - - - - - - - - - 
2 miles RT to House On Fire, or 8 miles RT to see all the ruins. 

House On Fire Ruins
Following the House On Fire Ruins train

- - - - - - - - - - - - -Dogs- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Yes! They are allowed

House On Fire Ruins Trailhead
House On Fire Ruins Trailhead

- - - - - - - - - - - - -Parking- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Parking is just on the side of the road by the trailhead.  
The road is a narrow dirt road and parking may be limited. 

Parking area House On Fire Ruins Trailhead
Parking area House On Fire Ruins Trailhead

- - - - - - - - - - - - -Fees- - - - - - - - - - - - - 
I didn't realize it until after, but you do need a back country permit to hike this area with a fee of $2/person.  You need a permit for: Cedar Mesa Canyons: Grand Gulch, Slickhorn Canyons, Fish Canyon, Owl Canyon, North and South Forks of Mule Canyon north of U.S. Highway 95, Road Canyon, Lime Creek, and their tributaries.  Find out more about permits here
- - - - - - - - - - - - - Getting Here - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Mule Canyon is about 25 miles away from the nearest town of Blanding off highway 95, the same road that leads to Natural Bridges National Monument.  You will see a turnoff on the right by mile marker 102.  Just past it, you will see the Mule Canyon Ruins.  While these are worth stopping at, you have gone too far and these are not the House On Fire Ruins. 

 Look for dirty County Road 263 and you will see the trailhead about a quarter mile down this dirt road.  Cars will be parked along the road, and you will see a few trail signs.  We hiked this on our way home, leaving Mexican Hat.  This is also a popular back packing spot as there is a year round water source.  If you really want to see the ruins and petroglyphs in this canyon (and in this general area), AmericanSouthwest.Net has this great detailed map of ruins and petroglyphs in the area (map above). 

This was a great way to end a fun trip with a great group of people.  
Check out my recap video below!


  1. Aww I love our group photo! Turned out great. -Alicia @

  2. It did I even love the shadows! Thanks for organizing such a great trip!


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