The Collins Canyon, Cowboy Camp (Cedar Mesa)

Collins Canyon is often used as an access canyon to Grand Gulch, and by many considered the easiest. The elevation profile, and grade of Collins is friendly to even a novice hiker.  But today we are not concerned with the Grand Gulch, but rather the remains of an old cowboy camp in Collins Canyon.

From the Collins Canyon trailhead it is less than a mile to the old cowboy camp. The camp was set up among an outcropping of enormous boulders, and an alcove in the canyon wall. It is quite picturesque with old cans, bottles, cooking utensils, and an array of tools strung about. Remnants of an old fence, or hitching post lie collapsed on the ground. There is also a dug out, which was probably used for cold storage. It is in perfect condition, with the logs still enclosing it. Inside is a collection of old boxes of Rosebud Matches, and Sego Milk.

 

Upper Collins Canyon. Collins Canyon provides easy access to Grand Gulch.

Upper Collins Canyon. Collins Canyon provides easy access to Grand Gulch.

 

A treasure trove of rusty treasure!

A treasure trove of rusty treasure!

 

A can of Columbine Milk, dating to the mid-1940s.

A can of Columbine Milk, dating to the mid-1940s.

 

The camp has a couple of telling artifacts that can help to date its use. Sego Milk, began production in 1916, and went out of business in 1961, and a can of Columbine Milk that I found during my visit, I was able to date to the 1940s. While that doesn’t narrow it down too much, that does tell us that the camp was used in the 1940s, and possibly prior. Based on the extensive amount of artifacts, it is relatively safe to assume that the camp was probably used on and off for an extended period.

Spend a little time here, and summon the spirit of John Wayne. You just may find him sitting around a fire, enjoying a smoke, eating beans, and swapping lies with his compadres.

 

Dug out storage facility, probably used as cold storage.

Dug out storage facility, probably used as cold storage.

 

In the storage facility are Sego Milk and Rosebud match boxes.

In the storage facility are Sego Milk and Rosebud match boxes.

 

The amount of historic trash at the camp indicates extensive use.

The amount of historic trash at the camp indicates extensive use.

 

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.

  • Tim Main

    John Wayne would be finishing a bottle also.

  • Sherman

    This is great! How has it come to be so intact, and the contents in such good shape, for this many decades?