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House on Fire Ruins

June 29, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

House on Fire Ruins

It's not really a house. And it's not really on fire. But it sure looks like it.

It's an 800+ year old Ancestral Puebloan ruin that makes a photographer's mouth water. It's actually a granary that was built into the base of a weathered sandstone overhang and was in continuous use for hundreds of years in Utah's Mule Canyon. The ruins have not been restored, and it's a testament to the respect that hikers and photographers have shown for this precious historical site, that it remains in such pristine condition.

We were exploring our options online after dinner in our rented Moab condo on a recent trip to Utah when we came across a similar image. Surprisingly, I had never heard of these ruins.  As a group we made an immediate decision to change our plans and put the House on Fire Ruins at the top of the 'must do' list.

The next day eight of us piled into our respective vehicles and headed for the visitor center in Blanding, Utah. There we learned that the location is not marked on the highway. There's a BLM dirt road on the right between mile markers 101 and 102 on Highway 95 out of Blanding. Take that road to the bridge, park, and follow the trail head on the left for about 1 1/2 miles. The trail is an easy one that follows the ravine where a rock cairn on the right side of the ravine marks the location of the ruins. Afterwards, get back on the trail and look for more ruins farther up.

The "flames" are a trick of the light, and you have to be in the right spot to capture the effect; shoot it from the opposite direction and you get, well, sandstone. But from here, the effect of sunlight reflecting on the stone creates this remarkable effect. Because of this, most images you see will be very similar.

I read several references that say you have to be there at a certain time of day - in the morning between 10 and 11 AM, for example. But I made this image at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, so I'm here to tell ya it doesn't much matter what time it is, as long as the sun is shining.

Make your images, then put the camera down and sit in the shade of the flaming overhang and ponder the people who sat where you're sitting now, 800 years ago.




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