Lower Price River III: May Ranch

September 27-28, 2019

I had been wanting to hike to the old May Ranch along the Price River for at least a couple of years, but the logistics of removing the roof box from the Jeep, loading the canoe, and figuring out a shuttle seemed like a lot of work for what is a relatively short day-hike. However, since I had a long river trip coming up the following weekend and had to do all that work anyway, this weekend seemed like the perfect time to make it happen. Chris met me at my house and we loaded his gear and hit the road toward Green River. I had the canoe on top of the Jeep and my mountain bike on the back for the shuttle. We headed up Hastings Road, checked out our intended takeout and put-in spots, looked at some familiar rock art, and then made camp just across from the Price River confluence.

Welcome to Green River!
Welcome to Green River!

Price River confluence petroglyphs
Price River confluence petroglyphs

Parked in Gray Canyon
Parked in Gray Canyon

Nefertiti petroglyphs
Nefertiti petroglyphs

Camp at the confluence of the Price and Green rivers
Camp at the confluence of the Price and Green rivers

Hanging out by the campfire
Hanging out by the campfire

We weren’t in any particular hurry to get on the river Saturday morning. After packing up camp we drove to the Nefertiti put-in and unloaded the canoe and other river gear. I drove down the road about 2.5 miles and parked the Jeep, then rode the mountain bike back and we launched on the Green River. Nefertiti Rapid hadn’t really worried me, but as we approached it in the canoe I began to wonder whether we’d have trouble. We sailed straight through smoothly, though, and continued on easily to the Price River confluence.

Parking spot near the takeout
Parking spot near the takeout

On the Green River
On the Green River

Parking spot near the mouth of the Price River
Parking spot near the mouth of the Price River

After changing into hiking shoes and shouldering our packs, we climbed the river bank and walked a fairly well-used trail to some boulders covered in petroglyphs. One of the boulders appears to have fallen over because all the rock art is now sideways. A little beyond the rock art boulders was another big rock with some well-made cowboy glyphs from 1894 that included five sets of initials and a couple of unusual figures.

Checking out some petroglyphs on a boulder
Checking out some petroglyphs on a boulder

Price River confluence petroglyphs (rotated counterclockwise)
Price River confluence petroglyphs (rotated counterclockwise)

Price River confluence petroglyphs (rotated counterclockwise)
Price River confluence petroglyphs (rotated counterclockwise)

Price River confluence petroglyphs (rotated counterclockwise)
Price River confluence petroglyphs (rotated counterclockwise)

Snakes and claw-handed figure
Snakes and claw-handed figure

Another boulder with petroglyphs on it
Another boulder with petroglyphs on it

Cowboy glyphs from 1894
Cowboy glyphs from 1894

Is that a cat?
Is that a cat?

Round figure
Round figure

1894, C.E.A., G.V.P., C.J.P., W.G.A., G.Mc.C., March 17
1894, C.E.A., G.V.P., C.J.P., W.G.A., G.Mc.C., March 17

The next stop along the river was an area that piqued my curiosity in Google Earth. Starting in 2012, the satellite imagery shows some sort of structure next to the river, as well as something in the river itself. I’d assumed it was a gauging station, but when we arrived at the location the structure was gone–it may have been wiped out by the September 2016 flood that affected my river trip that year. In the river, however, there was some sort of pipe grid extending out into the water. It didn’t look like any gauging equipment I’ve ever seen, but I can’t imagine what else it could have been. We continued upstream and encountered some rock art, a pit house, and a single inscription. Strangely, a couple of the petroglyphs were also sideways.

Heading up the Price River
Heading up the Price River

Some sort of piping lying in the river
Some sort of piping lying in the river

Lichen-covered petroglyphs
Lichen-covered petroglyphs

Possible Barrier Canyon Style petroglyphs (roated counterclockwise)
Possible Barrier Canyon Style petroglyphs (roated counterclockwise)

My favorite petroglyph of the trip
My favorite petroglyph of the trip

Pit house
Pit house

Petroglyph-covered boulder
Petroglyph-covered boulder

Gopher snake on the trail
Gopher snake on the trail

Badly weathered pictograph
Badly weathered pictograph

M. Johnson
M. Johnson

We reached the May Ranch and I was surprised how well-built the cabin was. According to Utah’s Canyon Country Place Names the ranch and cabin were built by Albert J. May, and later abandoned by him in about 1930, after which a sheep operation moved in. The cabin is mostly built from railroad ties and possibly larger bridge beams. Some of the ties still have railroad spikes in them, and I found at least one rail tie plate lying around along with other miscellaneous refuse.

Approaching May Ranch
Approaching May Ranch

Cabin at May Ranch
Cabin at May Ranch

Bed frame
Bed frame

Railroad spike in a tie used to build the cabin
Railroad spike in a tie used to build the cabin

Inside the cabin
Inside the cabin

Cabin at May Ranch
Cabin at May Ranch

Rail tie plate
Rail tie plate

Lizard sunning on the side of the cabin
Lizard sunning on the side of the cabin

Crumpled wash basin
Crumpled wash basin

Impressive stone chimney
Impressive stone chimney

Fireplace and stove base
Fireplace and stove base

Stove box
Stove box

Old hay rake
Old hay rake

Corrals near the cabin
Corrals near the cabin

We continued farther upstream, walking along an old canal that was used by May to water his crops. Curiously, my GPS showed a trail along the canal named “Roar Then Canal.” I haven’t been able to find any other references to that name other than this map. I really wonder what data source was used for the map! We saw several more pit houses and some rock art. In one area, a village of several pit houses were joined against a large circle of rocks, and one of those rocks had some circular petroglyphs on it. I found a single potsherd there, the only one I saw all day.

Walking farther upstream
Walking farther upstream

Pit house
Pit house

Chris on the Roar Then Canal
Chris on the Roar Then Canal

Roar Then Canal
Roar Then Canal

Pit house
Pit house

Potsherd with a painted black line
Potsherd with a painted black line

Circular petroglyphs on a rock that’s part of a pit house wall
Circular petroglyphs on a rock that's part of a pit house wall

Large circular ring of rocks
Large circular ring of rocks

A boulder with petroglyphs on it
A boulder with petroglyphs on it

Petroglyphs on a boulder
Petroglyphs on a boulder

A fence near the old road
A fence near the old road

Pit house
Pit house

One of the most visible parts of the old road
One of the most visible parts of the old road

Petroglyphs
Petroglyphs

Dancing anthropomorph
Dancing anthropomorph

It was getting pretty warm in the afternoon. We took shelter in the shade of a boulder and ate a late lunch before heading back downstream. From then on there was nothing new to see so we just picked up the pace and made good time back to the canoe. The round-trip hiking distance was about seven miles, though it took much of the day because we were going slow and looking for rock art. It was a short float of less than half a mile back across the Green River to where the Jeep was waiting. We opted to take out at a very steep spot of the river bank closer to the Jeep, which allowed us to avoid a longer walk back carrying the canoe and gear along the road.

Heading downstream
Heading downstream

Steep takeout spot
Steep takeout spot

There’s still a large section of the lower Price River that I haven’t seen and isn’t accessible by day-hiking, so my next trip will have to be an overnight backpack which I’m not sure I’m looking forward to anytime soon but will be worth it when it happens.


Photo Gallery: Lower Price River III: May Ranch

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