Winter Walk to Horsecollar Ruins Overlook at Natural Bridges

White Canyon and Red House Cliffs, from Horse Collar Ruin Overlook.

White Canyon and Red House Cliffs, from Horse Collar Ruin Overlook. (Click on image for larger version).

I took another walk out to the Horsecollar Ruins Overlook at Natural Bridges National Monument in southeast Utah.

Handrails along trail to Horsecollar Ruin Overlook.

Handrails along trail to Horsecollar Ruin Overlook.

Some of the recent snow had melted, but not much. In fact on this hike I was the first one out to the overlook. Amazingly. It’s an easy walk despite the snow, especially with the handrails on the steeper pitches of sandstone slickrock near the end of the trail. The views are fantastic. Not just down into White Canyon and Deer Canyon, but of the surrounding cliffs, such as those below Deer Flat (an extension of Elk Ridge even higher above) and the Red House Cliffs and Moss Back Butte. If you like easy solitude, with great photography and no crowds, Natural Bridges is your place.

Horse Collar Ruin site, from the overlook.

Horse Collar Ruin site, from the overlook.

At the overlook itself, you are gazing down into White Canyon, the main canyon through the park, and in which two of its three natural bridges are located.

The Horsecollar Ruin cliff dwelling site is situated on a ledge on the other side of the canyon wall, just above the stream bottom. On this winter morning the sunlight hadn’t yet gotten down the canyon wall far enough to warm it. But it would soon. And remain on it for most of the rest of this short winter day. That’s one big reason the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi) chose to build in these south-facing cliff alcoves: maximum solar warmth in the winter when the sun’s angle is low, and then maximum shade in the summer months when the sun’s much higher angle was cut off by the overhanging alcove during the hottest portion of the day.

Horsecollar Ruin closeup, from the overlook on the rim of White Canyon.

Horsecollar Ruin closeup, from the overlook on the rim of White Canyon.

It’s interesting to stand at this precipice in winter and imagining living here. Down there, I mean. Archaeologists aren’t even sure if the site was occupied year around, or if the ancient ones migrated seasonally down to lower elevations in winter. Wood would have been plentiful above the site on the mesa top. But that was far above the site, vertically, and they only had stone headed axes with which to cut wood.

To see what Horsecollar Ruin looks like up close and personal in wintertime, see my post “Beauty Between the Snows“.

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

© Copyright 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

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