The Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum is named for the Ancestral Pueblo site on its grounds. The site was smartly named by Blanding town founder Albert R. Lyman. Using the local term “cedar” for “juniper,” Lyman observed the 9-foot-tall rubble mound stood in the transitional environment between the lower elevation sage flats and the higher elevation pinyon-juniper woodland. Within the walls of the museum, you will find a record of the people who have lived in this mesa and canyon landscape for the last 13 millennia.
Repository of Ancestral Pueblo Artifacts
The Edge of the Cedars Museum is the largest repository of Ancestral Pueblo artifacts in southeastern Utah. Opened in 1978 on 6.6 acres of land, the museum is dedicated to inspiring and educating visitors about pre-European and contemporary history of American Indian cultures of the Four Corners region, including the Navajo, Ute, and Paiute communities of southern Utah, and the descendant Pueblo towns of Arizona and New Mexico.
Ancient Village and Chaco-era Great House at Edge of the Cedars
The museum is located on an Ancestral Pueblo site that comprises two components: a large agricultural village occupied between 850 and 950 CE, and a Chaco-era great house built and occupied between 1075 and 1225 CE. The Chaco-era component includes a multi-story great house and a great kiva, as well as several smaller pueblos that were used for living and storage.
The great house has been stabilized and partially reconstructed, and you can walk the paved interpretive trail around the pueblo at your leisure. Signs direct you to the roof of a 1,000-year-old kiva in the great house and to the ladder where you can descend into and explore the room.
Rare Artifacts at Edge of the Cedars
The museum displays over 800 pottery vessels in its Visible Storage Room, spanning some 700 years of pottery-making traditions from about 600 to 1300 CE. Museum visitors may also see a cache of digging sticks and other utilitarian artifacts, one-of-a-kind objects such as the macaw feather sash (dated to 1150 CE), the ladder from Perfect Kiva, and rare items like the Horse Rock Pueblo basket collection and a dog-hair rope. Every object tells a story bringing us closer to understanding the ancient people.
Joe Pachak’s murals and sculptures
Throughout the museum, murals created by Bluff, Utah, artist Joe Pachak reproduce rock-art panels of San Juan County. The murals include some images no longer seen because they are beneath the waters of Lake Powell.
Among Pachak’s artistic contributions to the museum are rock-art inspired sculptures, including the Solar Marker. Like Ancestral Pueblo archaeoastronomy sites, it is a calendar marking the movement of light and shadow at summer and winter solstice. At the sculpture, which replicates the play of light and shadow witnessed at Ancestral archaeoastronomy sites.
The museum offers programs the public, including archaeology and art exhibitions, lectures, and an annual Archaeology Day held on the first Saturday every May.
Edge of the Cedars is Open Daily
Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March through November and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. December through February.
The day-use fee is $5 for adults and $3 for children and Utah seniors 62 and older. There is no fee for children under five.
If you’re looking to expand your knowledge and understanding of the history and culture of America’s Indigenous peoples, Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum must be a stop on your journey along the trail.