A great hike that has you scaling across a canyon to reach 1,000-year-old ruins.
Bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen as the canyon is exposed. The Moon House Trail
has some steep sections that are not recommended for those with a fear of heights.
To visit Moon House Ruin
you must have a permit from the Kane Gulch Visitor Center. Permits are limited to 20 per day. For more information on permits, click here
There are two options for parking for this hike. If you have a 2WD or low-clearance vehicle, you can park at a large dirt pull-out off of Snow Flat Road, and start the hike on the Moon House Approach
. Otherwise, if you feel like shortening the hike, 4WD vehicles can drive down the Moon House Approach
to reach the second parking area at the start of the Moon House Trail
Starting from the Moon House Approach
parking area, head north on the dirt road. This road is slight uphill on the way out, but the apart from a couple rutted and rocky sections, overall, it is very easy hiking. The road is pretty exposed and somewhat dusty, so be sure to wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water as it can get quite hot on a sunny day.
After about a mile of hiking on the road, you'll come to the second parking area and the start of the Moon House Trail
. The trail is marked by cairns, so just keep an eye open and you shouldn't lose your way. The trail starts out pretty flat, heading through scrubby pinyon pine, juniper, and rabbitbrush. Stick to the rocks and marked trail to make sure you don't damage the cryptobiotic soil in the area.
The canyon rim opens up suddenly and impressively from the flat ground that you have been hiking. Be sure to look across the canyon to see if you can spot the ruins as it is truly impressive to see them perched on the far side of the canyon wall.
From here the drop down into the canyon is steep. You'll be crossing several large slabs of slickrock and a couple tight switchbacks will loose rock. There is one section that will require jumping (or scooting) down a small ledge onto a stack of rocks that others have kindly stacked to make for an easier descent/ascent.
At just under half a mile, the trail will drop to the canyon floor. Depending on the time of year there may be water flowing in the small creek or there may just be some pools of water and a dry creek bed to cross. There are several massive black and red striated boulders on the canyon floor and a cool overhang to explore.
From here, it is just a short, quick uphill with one tiny section of scrambling to reach the main Moon House Ruin
. Once you are on this ledge where the main Moon House Ruin
is, be sure to take some time to explore both to the north and south along the ledge. There are several other smaller ruins and remnants, and while they aren't as large or extensive as the main ruin, they are no less impressive. Similarly, the views up and down the canyon are breathtaking, so hike along the rim to take it all in. When you are done exploring, just head back the way you came.
Pinyon pine, juniper, rabbitbrush, yucca, and cactus. Cottonwoods and some wildflowers such as asters and daisies down by the creek bed. Lots of small lizards on the rocks.
These undeveloped ruins are over 1,000 years old.