The Canyonlands National Park covers a vast amount of ground, so this park is divided into four distinct sections and each section offers a unique environment to experience. The Needles District is the southern most section of Canyonlands and it is named after the signature tall rock spires in this end of the park. The Canyonlands Needles District is located next to Bears Ears National Monument and the Indian Creek Recreation Area, so this section of Canyonlands is a continuation of the neighboring topography. The Needles District also shares the same ancient native cultural heritage as the Bears Ears region and remnants of the ancient past can be found at the Roadside Ruin!
The Roadside Ruin Trail is a short loop that is only a few hundred yards long. The trail is not paved, but it is well maintained and smooth, so those who have mobility challenges can do the trek. The trail heads into a massive sandstone outcrop area that is hidden from view behind the trees. After rounding a corner, the ancient Puebloan granary unexpectedly comes into view, which can be a total surprise because this granary is hidden so well.
The Roadside Ruin actually is one of the very few ancient granaries that can be easily accessed without having to do a long hike or a steep climb up a cliff. Most of the ancient granaries were located on high perches on the wall of a tall bluff, so being able to see the Roadside Ruin Granary up close really is something special. The reason why most of the granaries were located in high places that were not easy to access had to do with pest control and moisture reduction. Another reason that the granaries were hidden high up had to do with defending the food stocks from marauding invaders. The Roadside Ruin Granary may not be perched high on a cliff, but it certainly is hidden from view, because a visitor literally has to be within 30 yards, just to see this ancient stone food storage bin.
Because the Canyonlands National Park is such a big place and there are so many unique areas to experience, most visitors focus solely on the landmarks when making a touring plan for the day. The Roadside Ruin Trail is a good landmark to look for when touring the Canyonland Needles District and this ancient granary will provide insight into the native culture that lived here long ago!
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