Fallen Roof

Fallen Roof

The Ancient Pueblo People, formally called the Anasazi, appeared in archeology of the Cedar Mesa, Utah area a thousand or so years ago. They were master builders, and they often built their buildings into the alcoves of canyon walls, and often far up from the floor, seemingly defying gravity. Their stonework is impressive even to this day, and they built with care and precision, allowing many of the works to remain looking like they were just finished yesterday.

Although their buildings have withstood the ravages of time, the same cannot be said of some of the canyons they chose. These small granaries, tucked into Road Canyon, were probably unremarkable when first built. However, part of the alcove’s roof has fallen, leaving a dramatic and impressive design in the new roof, that’s all changed. Add in some reflected light, and the ruin known as “Fallen Roof” takes on a mystery and magic all of its own.

I’ve known about the Fallen Roof ruin for a while now, and it was a delight and a joy to finally find and experience it. I was reasonably certain I knew its approximate location, so I had a decent chance of success. Being situated in a remote area, however, certainly added to the challenge. Cedar Mesa, located in Southeastern Utah in roughly the middle of absolutely nowhere, today is wild and no longer tamed; its canyons are rugged and deep, with steep side and no easy egress if something goes wrong. It pays to be exceptionally careful and cautious; cell phones do not work, and once you head down the four wheel drive roads you disappear into the wilderness completely. As you head deeper in country, you begin to appreciate the extraordinary beauty that abounds. Once parked, it was a good mile or so hike down into Road Canyon, winding through a small tributary into the main canyon itself, finding my way through a countryside that once was teeming with people. Today, only the birds and a few smaller animals remarked on my passage.

Once I was where I thought the ruin was it was still difficult to locate; it is tucked into an alcove so perfectly that it looks almost as if the canyon grew around the building. Even when I did see it, getting to it was problematic, since it was located higher up the canyon wall than I was expecting. Luckily, it was possible to find a route up to it, although I will say I was pretty nervous in a few spots. Still, once the climb was made, the experience of being there was overwhelming. Just standing there in the silence of the alcove you could hear the sounds of days gone by, and you could feel the strong presence of the location.

The Ancient Pueblo People built to last, and even today it is not always easy to see their ruins, so cleverly that they situated them into the natural surroundings, and getting to them is often another story entirely. Still, they serve as excellent reminders of the spirit of these proud people, and let us remember them via Fallen Roof.

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