Forgotten Canyon Ruins, also called Defiance House, can only be reached by boat. It is a great place to explore with kids on your next trip to Lake Powell. Forgotten Canyon is located near the Bullfrog Marina, so if you have launched from there, you should be able to find it pretty easily.
When you near the end of the canyon, stay to the right side if the water is low. Otherwise, you can beach your boat on the sandbar. Moor the boat when the water gets shallow and walk along the flat sandy area on the left side of the water.
Depending on the level of the lake, the trail distance can fluctuate. We visited in October 2019 and we hiked about 2.0 miles roundtrip to Defiance House. Other times it can longer as the water levels are lower right now.
After only about 50 yards, you’ll come to the one water crossing on this hike. It is only about knee deep on a low water year. From that point, there is an obvious trail up the canyon. It is relatively flat for about a third of a mile, and then the petroglyphs appear high up on the wall on the left side of the trail. There is a large alcove, and you can see steps leading up to the ruins high above.
It’s really thick to climb to the Forgotten Canyon ruins, and there are ghost trails everywhere. You have to bushwhack and climb a few steep places to reach the steps, but the climb is worth it.
Once you reach the top, you can see some really old petroglyphs along with the obvious ones. You can climb right in the reconstructed ruins, which includes scaling a narrow ladder that leads down into a pit house. The original timbers have been used in the reconstruction, and our boys thought it was so interesting.
There are so many places to visit at Lake Powell, but Forgotten Canyon Ruins and Petroglyphs are an easy, family-friendly hike that allows you to get off the boat for some exploring. For more historical information, check the national park website.