Friday, April 22, 2011

Squaw Point Mesa Top

The Squaw Point Mesa Top is the area between Cross Canyon on the east and Squaw Canyon on the west, in the Canyons of the Ancients in soutwest Colorado. The access is to follow paved Road 6 south from Dove Creek, CO. The route zig zags west in several places but continues south on Roads 5 and 4. The Canyons of the Ancients area definitely begins at a cattle guard after about 17 miles.

At about 19 miles, the well maintained county roads end at a drill site, but a dirt BLM road makes a right turn and is marked with a National Monument sign. The dirt road is bumpy but is drivable. It is marked as a “Designated Route” for motorized travel. I continued driving 2 more miles down this road. There are several side roads along the way, but I only saw one side road that was also a Designated Route.
At about 2 miles down the dirt road, there is a short turn off that provides some good views of Squaw Canyon. The area in view is in the Squaw/Papoose Canyon Wilderness Study Area. It appears to be over the state line into Utah, but still part of the BLM managed lands.
I was surprised to see what I think is a Navajo Hogan type structure built into the canyon rim. The doorway may be oriented south rather than the traditional east. The roof uses cribbed juniper logs, but has some plastic sheet built in.

Overlooking the Hogan to the south, there is a boulder based ruins site visible about 0.4 miles away. This site isn’t visible from the road. I drove a little further south and hiked to it, but the hiking distance is about the same whether you drive further or not.

The boulder is located just below a point and has a commanding view below, across, and to each side. There is a small section of still standing wall segment.
Most of the rubble appears to have fallen on the south side. There is an old but modern ladder among the debris. My side trip hike here took about 0:40 minutes.
Coincidentally, at the point where I parked about 0.4 miles south of the Navajo Hogan, there is a mesa top ruins site very close to the road. Though it is visible from the road, it is overgrown with sage brush. This mesa top site was about 100 yards from the canyon rim and about 0.4 miles from the boulder lookout ruins site.

The road continues south through a large sagebrush field. I stopped at a random point and walked about 0.3 miles to the Cross Canyon west rim. Cross Canyon continues to the McLean Basin area. In the southwest side of McLean Basin, there is a rough road that climbs up and probably connects to this mesa top road, but I didn’t get that far. I stopped at a fence and gate that was 4.2 miles past the Canyons of the Ancients sign.

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