Horse Collar Ruin Overlook

a viewing area on the cliff edge, with the canyon below
Horse Collar Ruin is a short, unpaved hike out to an overlook.

NPS photo

Quick Facts

Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Scenic View/Photo Spot

 Horse Collar Ruin is one of the best-preserved ancestral Puebloan sites in the area. The overlook is the easiest and best way to view the site. Horse Collar was named after two structures with doorways that resemble horse collars. We believe people left the area over 700 years ago and the site's remarkable state of preservation is due to the isolation of Natural Bridges. Few visitors made the journey down the canyons, so Horse Collar Ruin's kiva with original roof and interior were not disturbed. The site was rediscovered by an archeological expedition in 1907, seemingly forgotten, and rediscovered again in 1936 by Zeke Johnson, the park’s first custodian.

Not much has changed since Zeke Johnson's day. The ladder into the kiva is gone, and much of the debris inside has been removed. Sadly, one can no longer find pottery or arrowheads here anymore--practically everything has been taken away by other visitors.

The round structures are also much as Zeke Johnson first saw them. No one knows the exact purpose of these unusual structures. Why are they so perfectly round, and why did their builders not use the back of the alcove as a wall and save themselves a great deal of work? Were they ever roofed? If not, why bother constructing plaster floors? Were they used for storage? If so, why were fires lit inside them? What do you think?

Natural Bridges National Monument

Last updated: March 24, 2022