River House Ruins
Located close to our campground, but still requiring the use of a high clearance 4 wheel drive to access it, is River House Ruin. Once again we had to air down the tires as we set off over soft sand and rough rock. These roads are very bouncy and now that we know what the Jeep is capable of, they are a lot of fun. Leonard has a grin from ear to ear after some of the challenging bits.
4 wheel fun
It’s strange, we’ve traveled a lot of dirt roads by now and almost never see anyone, but you never know when that will change. We were on Navajo Reservation land a few days ago, in the middle of nowhere, and came across a truck plowed into the ditch and stuck up to its axle in sand. It had 3 very intoxicated Indians in it. Leonard put the Jeep through its paces again by pulling them out with all of them still in it because they were too drunk to get out. They may never remember how they got out of that ditch.
Metate – corn grinding rocks. Every ruin that we have toured has had ancient corn cobs still in them.
Then today, as we were returning back out to the main highway on this
Metate in window sill overlooking San Juan River
very rough road and having not seen one other person all day, we came across a broken down ATV with a couple from Louisiana and their cocker spaniel. They had ridden that thing about 30 miles on dirt roads from their campsite and were trying to get to the ruin. It was already fairly late in the afternoon and we were just flabbergasted. The guy thought his fuel pump had gone out and after consulting we all decided we would take his wife back to their campsite,
Butler Wash Petroglyphs
where she could get their truck and come back and pick him up. Then miraculously the ATV started, apparently just vapor-locked. We followed them out as far as we were going, to ensure they were okay, still just amazed by encountering them and then watched them and the dog bounce merrily away. You just never know what you’re going to see in the desert.
Some of these petroglyphs and nearby ones date back 13,000 years
The River House Ruins had parts that were originally 3 stories but are in poor shape today. The great fun was the road into the ruins and stopping by an old homesteader site along the way.
A mile further down the river from the ruins is the Butler Wash Petroglyph Panel, which is probably about 100 yards long. There were 1000’s of them etched into the canyon wall and they were in amazing shape. These petroglyphs and those from a nearby site called Sand Island, which we visited a few days ago, contain carvings ranging as far back as prehistoric times. The Sand Island site has a woolly mammoth carving that has been determined to be 13,000 years old. We tried finding it amongst all the others but never could.
Claret cup cactus