Thursday, March 18, 2010

Quiet and Alone at False Kiva in Canyonlands National Park

I took a cold, but fabulous trip to the Island in the Sky District in Canyonlands National Park in the first days of March. My intent was to visit the False Kiva ruin and hopefully get a few photos.  I had seen some awesome photos of  Flase Kiva on the internet and they really sparked my interest in seeing the site.

Contrary to what one might think, the site is not an Anasazi ruin, it is actually a Pueblo Indian ruin.  The rangers at the visitor center told me that it was dated around 1350 A.D.  The site is designated a Class 2 site, which means that it is not noted on any maps or literature, but if you inquire with the rangers, they will tell you how to find the site.

I arrived at the Island in the Sky Visitor Center on the afternoon of March 1st.   I was supprised to see that there was still a lot of snow on the ground.  I immediately went inside and asked one of the rangers for directions to the False Kiva.  The ranger was happy to provide the information, but told me that there would be possible deep snow and muddy conditions on the steeper ground leading up to the Kiva.  He told me that the hike was a three mile round trip and could be difficult.  I led him to believe that I was well prepared and would not be deterred by the challenging conditions.  I thanked the ranger for the information and headed out to setup my tent at the Willow Flat campground. 

After getting my camp set, I headed on down the road to find the not so noticable trail head.  After parking at the location noted by the ranger, I wandered back and forth along the road until I finally setteled on a set of foot prints leading off toward the edge of the canyon.  The prints cut a path in the snow that in most places had melted into the dirt.  After hiking for about fifteen to twenty minutes on the mesa, the path started to drop leading down to the edge of the canyon wall.  I was certain that I had chose the correct path when I met the edge of the cliff and saw that the path led out under an alcove.

I had to do some scrambling on steep scree below the alcove but it was dry, not muddy as I had been told and it was fun to navigate.  Finally arriving at the alcove I got my first glimpse of the ruin.  It is like the pictures depict, a small rock wall forming a circle.  It is the location that is totally heart stopping.  The alcove was quiet, out of the wind and the view looking out over canyonlands was astounding.  How the ancient ones found this place is amaizing in itself, but the reasons for making a site there were totally understandable.

The alcove was warm and out of the wind and the only sounds were the noises made by this modern man.  I stayed at False Kiva taking picutres untill the sun dipped well below the canyon rim.  It was a special kind of experience, alone in a rugged wilderness enjoying the same view that the ancients experienced, a view unchanged by time.
Check out my new blog entry about visiting False Kiva in the middle of the night to view the Milky Way: False Kiva Revisited - An Adventure to see the Milky Way

You can see more photos of False Kiva on this link:  False Kiva Ruin Images