Turtle of the Lake  LbNA # 48874

Placed DateJul 12 2009
CountyRio Arriba
LocationBlanco, NM
Found By huginn
Last Found Apr 21 2012
Hike Distance?

Frances Canyon Ruins is one of the largest sites of the Gobernador phase of Navajo history (1700-1775). When first studied, the site was composed of forty surface rooms in four major room blocks. Since that time considerable erosion has taken place, and many of these rooms no longer exist. The site is dominated by a roughly triangular tower now two stories high. Tree ring dates indicate the site was constructed between 1715 and 1742. Excavation in 1915 recovered items of Navajo, Pueblo, and Spanish material culture. Frances canyon ruin was nominated to the national register of historic places in 1975. This site was stabilized by the BLM stabilization team in 1975.

To find exciting ruins of this Navajo Publito you need to “Head East” out on US 64 from Bloomfield NM about 37 miles. Through the small town of Blanco, and past a place on the left called Navajo City. Watch the signs on the right side of the road for Sims Mesa Site, and follow this sign by turning left on road 527. The mile marker starts at 0 here so it will be easy to keep track. You want to get to mile marker 11, be aware that you will be diving on dirt roads, so make sure the weather is good to go. About mile marker 10 you will start smelling “Stinky Well” watch for it on the left waving the yellow flag. Directly across for mile marker 11 is another dirt road called Werner Grade, this road is a nice steep dirt road with ruts from many oil trucks traveling it. This road will take you to Frances Canyon Ruins, slow and bumpy…if you’re a passenger enjoy the view, if you are driving keep your eyes on the road. Keep to the main road (or to the left in most cases) there a lots of little turn offs to well sites. It is only a few miles, but it seems like longer to get to the first Frances Canyon, Forest Service sign. Follow the arrow and there are 2 more signs that will show you to a small parking area. The trail head starts with a sign-in box and the ruins are only .1 mile from there. You will come upon the first of 2 metal signs with information on them about the ruins. Find the compass arrow on this sign and see which way is north. Follow that direction to a small path on the side that leads up to some kind of berry bush with a nice flat, rock, sitting place on the left. Sit facing the metal sign that gave you directions and look to the left for a S.P.O.R. under the berry busy. You will find the “Turtle of the lake”. Even though it seems very dry up here, Navajo Lake isn’t far away and is a great place to spend the rest of your day.

Please be very discreet, it’s not a very busy place, but I have seen groups of people here. Do a good job of putting things back the way you found them. Enjoy the beauty of this area. Carry out more trash than you carry in!