Don't break out the fire extinguisher just yet. The flames over the Anasazi storage structure dubbed House on Fire—one of several ancient buildings in and around Mule Canyon in the Cedar Mesa region of southeastern Utah—are merely an effect created by midday light and shadow on banded sandstone. The area is rich with American Indian history. "When I go there, I feel almost reverent," says Laird Naylor, an archaeologist with the Bureau of Land Management. Catch the spirit off Highway 95 on county road SJ 263, about 19 miles west of Blanding. (435) 587-1500; visit blm.gov and enter "Mule Canyon" in the search box.
Can't get there? Here are some others
Wander among 1,185 bedrock mortars once used to grind acorns or watch Miwok dances during September's Big Time at Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park eight miles east of Jackson, Calif. (209) 296-7488, parks.ca.gov/?page_id=553.
Sweat lodge frames dot paths at First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park, off I-15 near Great Falls, Mont., where Plains Indians drove bison to their death. Culture Days run during September. (406) 866-2217, fwp.mt.gov/lands/site_282807.aspx.
Mysterious images, carved 500 to 800 years ago, decorate the Crooked River Petroglyph, a boulder off U.S. 97 at The Cove Palisades State Park, 15 miles southwest of Madras, Ore. (800) 551-6949, oregonstateparks.org/park_32.php.
Photography by David Muench
This article was first published in September 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.