In 1880 the Mormon settlers built a fort, to provide protection from the elements and the natives. The 236 pioneers needed all the help they could get. It was as difficult a place to begin a new settlement as there was. Many of the original pioneers left. But others took their place and the town held on.
One of the original log homes survives to today. It has been restored. The rest of the fort is being reconstructed on the land they first settled. There is a nice visitors center and several log homes and buildings on the square city block.
I found it interesting to wander between the buildings, read the descriptions and history. Included are a authentic Navajo Hogan and a Ute Tepee.
On the hill above the town are the cemetery and the ancient Bluff pueblo. The dry flowers and old headstones tell the hardship the land exacted. It is worth going up just for the view.
The Pueblo has been given a partial excavation and is protected and covered at the moment. I always wonder about the people who built these. What were their motives, and lives like? Why here? Did they love the view?
This river is the lifeblood of the area. I've been able to take a couple trips down it and loved it. A day trip is offered from Bluff to Mexican Hat and it is worth the trip. It is not quite as nice as one that allows you to stay on the river overnight and get the water in your shoes and eat on the shore in the morning.
Some things you need to see from the river are the Butler River petroglyphs, the River House Ruin, The Mule's ear, Raplee Anticline, Mendenhall's cabin, Mexican Hat, Honaker Trail, the goosenecks where you spend five miles meandering along and only travel one.
There are a few rapids on the river, but only one rated III, and that is near the end. This is a nice river for kids.
The area is saturated in Anasazi ruins. I have been lucky enough to see a couple. They are an amazing discovery, even if you will never be the first one to see them.
An active and vibrant culture thrived here for hundreds of years, cultivating maize, squash and beans. In about 1300 they left. Drought? Pressure from immigrants? No one knows for sure why they left. Distinctive pottery, unique building, and rock art left behind are all we have to learn about them.
This areas people associated with Mesa Verde. It was the major center for the San Juan culture. It would be a good place to start in the search of the ancient ones.
Many people find this kind of cheesy. Perhaps because I live in one of the four states I have always been interested in the only spot in the nation where four states join together. My parents took me when I was young. I took my kids. No it isn't much, yes it is a long drive there, yes the First Americans have taken advantage and it is kind of like a swap meet. But it really is fun to stand there in four states at once and take your picture.
And yes, it really is where it is supposed to be.
Stop at the Recapture Inn, where they have weekly speakers about the local hiking, adventure and exploration tips....if you can book ahead, do it, as they are often very full. But even if so, stop in there and take a look around their front room, as they have a huge amount of information, including local BLM maps that will help you find the 'hidden treasures' of ruins and ancient dwellings.