Becoming emboldened by our previous successes, we set our sights on a significantly more challenging ruin called Moonhouse Ruin, located in McCloyd Canyon. Moonhouse Ruin has such special significance that the BLM only allow 36 people a day access to the ruin and you must come to their office and get a permit prior to going out to the site. Their office was located 45 mins from our campground and we got there at 915 hoping to score two of the permits. Well, we were the first people asking for permits for that day and as it turns out we were the only ones out there all day.
It took another hour to drive not quite 10 miles, down a slickrock and very rough road, just to the reach the hiking trailhead. We set off on the hike, carrying plenty of water, snacks and keeping a wary eye for a rattlesnake that was supposed to live along the trail.
Apparently all of the ruins in these canyons are situated on the south-facing wall of the canyon, so that they get the afternoon sun. They are located under escarpments near the top and the approach to them involves hiking in from the opposite side of the canyon, dropping down to the canyon floor and then back up to where the ruin is located. This hike was even more work, scrambling on slickrock, over large boulders and loose rocks and at one point having to drop over a rock ledge with no hand holds. I used all my Fiery Furnace skills and moved at a snail’s pace at times, but eventually made it. No wonder these sites are not heavily visited, they’re not roadside attractions.
Moonhouse Ruin is unlike any of the other ruins, built with an outer wall, a hallway and inner rooms. Due to its remote access it is in great condition with original wooden beams, mud plaster on the walls and even the twine that binds
the beams together. Some of the wooden beams have been ring- dated and it has been determined that the structure was built in 1260 AD. There is also a room that has a painted panel across the bottom of it with a full moon on one side and crescent moon on the other side. It is unknown what the significance is, but probably ceremonial.
We probably spent at least an hour there all alone, eating lunch and exploring everything before beginning the dreaded return hike back down, across and up the other side. It was brutal, but I made it (though not without the assistance of my darling husband, I might add).