Target Ruins (Cedar Mesa)

The Target Ruins are located along the same route as the Ballroom Cave, however they are hidden in a not so obvious side canyon. The trailhead is located along Utah 95, but completely unmarked. There is a small parking area directly off the highway that is big enough to accommodate a few vehicles.

A decently traversed trail is routed through Upper Butler Wash, and a stunning red rock cliff canyon, with a perennial spring running down the middle. The canyon is jammed with towering trees, and lush vegetation. There are several social trail throughout the canyon, almost all of them lead to some sort of ruins, whether it be a cave with metates, or a few petroglyphs. Don’t get too discouraged if you end up on one of these trails, you will eventually find the one that will lead to the Target Ruins. A telling sign that you are on the correct path is that once you reach the top of the embankment, a small set of ruins will come into sight in an alcove about a quarter of a mile away. That is your, “target.”

 

The Target Ruins are well hidden in a side canyon off of Butler Wash.

The Target Ruins are well hidden in a side canyon off of Butler Wash.

 

Target Ruins from the alcove across the canyon.

Target Ruins from the alcove across the canyon.

 

To reach the alcove you will have to drop into a side canyon that wasn’t visible from Butler Wash. The main ruins of the Target site won’t come into view until you’ve dropped into the canyon, as they are high above on the opposite side, obscured from view.

Both fortunate, and unfortunate is their location, completely inaccessible without a ladder. This likely plays a role in their pristine condition, keeping the idiots that would loot or destroy at bay.

The best view of the ruins is to climb into the alcove across from the large Target ruins, this is the alcove with a small set of ruins that you had eyed since reaching the top of the embankment. In this alcove you will also find several crumbling dwelling walls, a few petroglyphs, and a large boulder with extensive metates and sharpening slicks. The real prize however is across the canyon.

 

The painted “target” can partially be seen on the inside wall. On the same flat-roofed structure there appears to have been another “target” painted on the outside wall.

The painted “target” can partially be seen on the inside wall. On the same flat-roofed structure there appears to have been another “target” painted on the outside wall.

 

Close-up

Close-up

 

From this vantage you are able to see just how well this cliff dwelling was built. The walls, and the roof remained in intact. There is still a lot of detail here, the wood support beams in the flat top roof are visible, and a large “target” pictograph painted in white adorns an inside wall. At one time it appears that the same symbol was also painted on an outside wall, but weathering has erased it for the most part.

Target Ruins are a prized gem. A must see on a visit to Cedar Mesa.

 

A metate complete with mano in the alcove across from Target.

A metate complete with mano in the alcove across from Target.

 

“Target” petroglyph in alcove across from Target Ruin.

“Target” petroglyph in alcove across from Target Ruin.

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.