I've seen vague photos from random web post mentioning Lewis Lodge Ruins but it was almost like they were a myth. Did the ruins really exist? I wanted to know so I tricked my cousin into taking a UTV trip to Cedar Mesa. Little did Randy know, there would be an extensive hike to reach the ruin that may or may not be at the end of some poorly marked trail. Oh yeah did I mention he doesn't like to hike.
Well it wasn't too bad for him, we did spent the day before exploring Arch Canyon. Little did he know I was using Arch Canyon to scout for the ruins. Unfortunately I was unable to spot the ruins from the bottom of Arch Canyon but there are several interesting ruins in the canyon itself not to mention the arches.
We were actually spending the week at our 11A4 Moab Vacation Rental, but we knew this was going to be a long day so we actually spent the night camping at Comb Wash. From the Comb Wash Campground we took the old road to Lake Powell via Comb Ridge Dugway. If you have never been there look close and can see two vehicles and a bulldozer that have fallen off the edge. That trail eventually reaches the top of Cedar Mesa and much easier roads. We followed easy Elk Mountain Road to the more difficult Milk Ranch Point road, 4x4 required. From there its about 5 miles to a small turnoff at a fence line and one mile hike to a ledge that drops into the canyon.
The ledge is only about a foot wide and on a very steep slope. Just getting to this point is tricky, the wall just gets steeper and steeper until you reach the edge and the rocks you see in the photo. In addition to all of that, one must duck under and round the pinon trees that block the path. It is kind of like Mother Nature doesn't want anyone going down there.
The ruins on the cliff are the reason for the hike. However, in reality the most well preserved ruin is on the west side of the canyon well hidden from the trail above. Once past this ruin there is a spring in the back of the canyon. The spring coming off of Cedar Mesa's Elk Ridge is likely one of the main contributing reason for the structures location.
Once around to the east side of the canyon you will encounter Lewis Lodge Ruin proper. This first thing you will notice is the defensive wall built (mostly collapsed) at the head of the canyon. Who were they trying to keep out? Next you will come to a well preserved kiva. It is amazing to me that after all of these years it is still in very good condition. I wonder what was placed in the shelves.
I don't know why but many of structures at the start of the canyon are falling apart. Maybe it has to do with the weather or the way the rocks shelter the walls. Or maybe the area has been loved to death and many people are simply too frightened to walk out to the end. I don't blame them, one false step going around the kiva and that is all she wrote.
In case you haven't noticed, this place is built on the edge of a 700 foot cliff. Don't under estimate 700 feet, that is very high. Image 2-3 tall cell towers stacked on top of one another, or the tallest buildings in New York. If you slip you will have plenty of time to reflect on your poor footing before you go splat. It not a 700 foot slope, its a 700 foot cliff.
This shows one of the final ruins. You can see they are much better preserved than the ones near the start. What is the most amazing is the number of structures along the cliff, 44 rooms in all. Wow!!! I would really like to go back, what a special place.
As you can see from the map we traveled a long ways via dirt road to get to the ruins. Depending on your plans and goals, you could make this a much shorter trip and start closer to Blanding, thus making this trail 30 minutes closer to Moab.
If you are planning a trip to Moab, we hope you will consider staying with us at Moab Adventure Condo. You are going to need a SxS or jeep to complete this trip and Our condos offer large double garages with plenty of room to park your side by sides or other toys inside. The community also has plenty of room for trailer parking.