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Thread: Poncho House Ruin--Navajo Nation

  1. #1

    Poncho House Ruin--Navajo Nation

    On a very overcast day, my wife and I hiked to the largest Anasazi ruin in Utah, Poncho House. We were required to secure the services of a native guide, which we did. He was from the town of Halchita, Utah, just across the San Juan River south of Mexican Hat.

    Poncho House sits in an alcove on Chinle Creek, about halfway between the San Juan River and the Arizona border. By Navajo Nation roads, it is hard to locate the exact road if you have never been there before.

    The major graded roads on the Res were passable to any vehicle; however, the route that got us as close to Poncho House as possible did require 4x4. After dropping down into a side wash of Chinle Creek via a donkey trail, we entered the washbed and worked our way as close to the ruin as we could. We found recent mountain lion scat and foot prints (more on this later).

    Poncho House consists of 3 separate sets of ruins, high off the floor of Chinle Creek. It has been established as nearly the size of Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde, yet not nearly as preserved and reconstructed as Cliff Palace. In fact, Poncho House sits much as it is since its original Anglo discovery by W. H. Jackson of the US Geological Survey in 1875. An inscription of his is pecked into the back wall of the first set of ruins.

    We spent about 2 hours exploring the ruin. The ground was peppered with pottery shards of all shapes and sizes. Almost every where you looked both in the ruin and upon the midden heap hiking up to the ruin was covered with shards. My wife found several that contacted a full half of the jar lip. Amazing! All were left in place.

    The overall hike was approximately 3.5 miles on way. Elevation change was slight, consisting mainly of a few scrambles up and down wash bottoms, of say 15-20 feet. The climb up into each ruin set was approximately 100 feet from the canyon floor.

    This is an amazing place. By Navajo law, a guide is required. We booked ours through The guide service does not normally go here. It had to be a specially arranged tour. Pricy, by worth it at least once in my humble opinion.

    From start to finish, trip was completed in 6 hours.
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    Only Dead Fish Go With The Flow

  2. Likes xjblue, Scott Card, psl53, oldno7, Byron, Scott P liked this post
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  4. #2

  5. #3
    You said the guide was pricey...if you don't mind my asking, how much did he charge? I'd love to see this ruin.
    The end of the world for some...
    The foundation of paradise for others.

  6. #4
    As mentioned, this was a specially arranged tour. Not what the company usually does to spots in Monument Valley or Magic Valley. It was approximately $225.00 per person. My wife and I together was, well, you can do the math...
    Trailhandlers, btw, was very professional and well run. Ask for the guide by the name of Marvin. He was very knowledgeable, told great colorful stories, and had a wonderful sense of humor.

    I did not finish the mountain lion story. On the way in to the ruin, while walking in the wash, we left foot prints. Saw or left no other tracks but human. Upon returning back to the vehicle, we saw fresh mountain lion tracks going right along with our previous entry prints. Also saw fresh mountain lion scat near our prints. Later, just before the point of exiting up out of the wash, we heard a snapping in the tamarisk up on top, then a growl--similar to the BYU growl at games, then more rustling in the tamarisk. Fortunately, the guide explained, we scared him more than the other way around. He also said that there was a reason why we did not see any domestic sheep in the area....

    Here are some more pics...
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    Only Dead Fish Go With The Flow

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  8. #5
    $225 per person? My God! that price, I would expect a gourmet lunch followed by a full body message with happy ending. Pricey indeed.

    Given the opportunity, I think I may flash a fifty dollar bill at some local to walk me in there.
    The end of the world for some...
    The foundation of paradise for others.

  9. #6
    Moderator jman's Avatar
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    Wow! What a awesome place. Great pics too. Thanks for sharing!
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  10. #7
    Great trip report! Looks spectacular!
    Utah is a very special and unique place. There is no where else like it on earth. Please take care of it and keep the remaining wild areas in pristine condition. The world will be a better place if you do.

  11. #8
    Yup too cool! nice trip n report. thanks

  12. Likes Doc Foster liked this post
  13. #9
    Very cool post. My wife and I spent several weeks every year hiking the canyon in the 4 corners area. We love the ruins and rock art. Great post and pictures. In my opinion it was worth the money. We may have to follow your example and do this trip.
    We must go forward, even if we can't!

  14. #10
    Ask for the guide, "Marvin," from Simpsons Trailhandler Tours. Marvin was great!
    Poncho House is not one for their "normal" tours. Its considered a customized trail tour. We were met at a gas station in Mexican Hat, Utah and returned to the same point upon completion. It was very interesting to learn about Marvin's life on the Reservation.
    Only Dead Fish Go With The Flow

  15. #11
    All of that area is not suppose to be bothered. Tour vehicles are not suppose to be in those areas. No one should be in that area. It's off limits.

  16. #12
    Poncho House Ruins is off limits. Noone is allowed in the area
    Last edited by Peterson; 11-10-2020 at 09:20 PM. Reason: Repeat

  17. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Peterson View Post
    Poncho House Ruins is off limits. Noone is allowed in the area
    By whose directive is it off-limits?

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