Hike to the Horse Collar Ruin Overlook

ancestral Puebloan stone structures in cliff alcove
Admire Horse Collar Ruin from above at the Horse Collar Ruin overlook.

NPS Photo

Horse Collar Ruin is one of the best-preserved ancestral Puebloan sites in the area. The overlook provides excellent views of the structures and surrounding canyon country.

Length Roundtrip: 0.6 mile (1 kilometer)
Elevation Change One-way (from Parking Lot to Overlook): 57 feet (17 meters) loss, 35 feet (10.6 meters) gain

Getting There

Start at the Horse Collar Ruin parking area and follow the unpaved trail 0.3 mile (0.5 kilometer) to the overlook.

circular structures with horse-collar shaped doorways
Horse Collar Ruin is named after the horse-collar shaped doorways in two of the structures.
This view is only accessible from the canyon floor. The Overlook is on top of the mesa.

NPS Photo

Horse Collar Ruin

Once you reach the overlook, look across the canyon and down to the cluster of structures below. Binoculars are especially helpful in spotting the small details. Look for the ruin’s namesake – two doorways in the shape of horse collars.

We don’t know much about the structures of Horse Collar Ruin. We believe they were built by ancestral Puebloans, who left the area more than 700 years ago. Why are the structures so perfectly round? Why did their builders not use the back of the alcove as a wall and save themselves a great deal of work? Where they used for storage? If so, why is there evidence of fires lit inside them? These are just some of the many questions archeologists hope to one day answer. What do you think?


All ages, but minors should be with an adult parent or guardian.

Park entry fees are required.

Directions from the Natural Bridges Visitor Center: Turn right out of the visitor center parking lot. Follow the driving loop approximately 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) until you see the sign and parking for Horse Collar Ruin.

All seasons – The Horse Collar Ruin Overlook Trail is open year-round, but roads may close in winter due to extreme weather conditions. Summer months get very hot, with temperatures in the 100s. Suggested visiting time is spring and fall.

Although the trail is open after dark, Horse Collar Ruin is not visible after sunset.

Accessibility Information

Service animals are allowed on this trail.

This is a primitive trail. This trail is not wheelchair accessible. Audio recordings of the posted signage are not available. The trail has 57 feet (17 meters) loss and 35 feet (10.6 meters) gain one way, from parking lot to overlook. There is uncertain footing in places. Stay clear of the sides of the canyon; although they are not sheer, they can be steep.

The nearest restrooms are flush toilets located outside the visitor center and a pit toilet located at the Kachina Bridge parking area. The nearest water is available at the visitor center.

Last updated: September 28, 2018