Canyonlands: Tales from Narrow Places

Ruins in Devils Chasm

Posted in Southern & Central Arizona by canyoneering on April 19, 2010

Devils Chasm
approximately 4 miles
Tonto National Forest – Sierra Ancha Wilderness
04/11/10


Devils Chasm is a rugged canyon hike in the Sierra Ancha Mountains culminating at well-preserved ruins high in the cliffs above the canyon floor. The canyon hike began in the cool shaded forest. David, Briscoe and I followed a flowing stream past many small waterfalls as we steadily walked up canyon. I think the prettiest portion of the hike was through a slick rock bowl with clear inviting pools and waterfalls.

Climbing up to the ruins from the canyon floor proved to be the most difficult part of the day. The route took us up a very steep scree slop of loose rock, dust and dirt where solid footing seemed none existent. With our feet constantly slipping, the two steps forward one step back seemed to be the pattern of progression to our objective. About half way up the scramble the ruins came into view on top of a protected cliff in an alcove above.

The dwellings were well worth the unpleasant scramble. The ruins consisted of multiple rooms, doorways and windows. The walls and the ceiling structural beams made of wood were still preserved and intact. It appeared the structure consisted of multiple levels. According to the sign along the road before the trailhead, “They were built between 1280 and 1350 AD by Indians known presently as the ‘Salado’. Why they chose to utilize this challenging environmental zone is not yet fully understood.” After relaxing in the structure and very carefully and thoroughly exploring it, we made our way back down the scree slope. Going down was much easier and way more fun then going up. David and Briscoe went first with David sliding on his feet and butt while Briscoe was body surfing on his back all the way down.

Because the location of these ruins are identified in a number of sources it is important that visitors explore them with the utmost in sensitivity and care.

-Laura

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