The name Fry Canyon specifically refers to one small canyon in southeast Utah, but there is more to the story. Fry Canyon also used to be the name of a small uranium mining community in the mid 1900s, which has since vanished after abandonment. In modern times, this name usually describes the entire region, which is like a vast labyrinth of canyons and towering buttes that stretch out for dozens of miles. Due to the formidable nature of the Fry Canyon landscape, ancient civilizations flourished in this seemingly inhospitable place, because of the natural defenses, water resources and wild game availability. There are many hidden ancient pueblo structures to be discovered in the canyons around Cedar Mesa and one of the easiest to access by car can be found just west in Fry Canyon.
Midway between Hite and Blanding on Utah State Road 95 is an abandoned lodge from the old Fry Canyon uranium mining town. Near this landmark is where the roadside sign for the Fry Canyon Ruins can be spotted and the pueblo overlook is just a few hundred yards down a rough dirt road. This dirt road may be too bumpy for an average passenger car, but the walking distance is easy and the trail goes over flat ground. Upon arrival, all it takes is a short stroll to the edge of the solid rock cliff to catch a view of the ancient pueblo structure, which rests under the overhang on the opposing canyon wall.
The Fry Canyon Ruins definitely are well hidden and if not for the signage, most people passing by would never realize it exists. The remains of some of the structures look like small food storage silos, which would explain why this strategic location was selected. The Fry Canyon Ruins are so old that identifying the builders is nearly impossible to do, but many more similar structures that can provide clues are located nearby in Bears Ears National Monument on Cedar Mesa. There is plenty to ponder over at this spot, so be prepared to spend some extra time to take it all in.
The Fry Canyon Ruins Overlook offers a nice experience and there is a second option for those who are into canyoneering. Doing the overland trek to the ancient structure is a popular venture, but the difficulty rating is moderately high, so it is best to be well prepared for what lies in store. Climbing gear and rugged boots will be needed. Survival rations, plenty of water and a first aid kit will be necessary to cart along too. There are sections of this canyon that require wading through deep seasonal water, so packing cameras or GPS devices must be done with care. If a survival situation arises, it is best to keep in mind that the water in this region may be contaminated from uranium mining and copper leaching operations, so the silent killer exists here too.
There is a lot to consider when canyoneering in Fry Canyon and doing some research ahead of time will be of great help. Some of the best resources are the regional rock climbing and canyoneering clubs, which can be browsed on the internet. For the rest of us, just checking out the Fry Canyon Ruins overlook will be more than enough to inspire pleasant memories for a lifetime!
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