William H. Jackson of the United States Geological and Geographical Survey conducted the first formal archaeological exploration of the Comb Ridge area. Originating in the Colorado Territory, Jackson and his team reached Comb Ridge by following ancient trails along the banks of the San Juan River. After exploring Chinle Creek (south of the San Juan River) they explored Comb Wash and its tributaries as they traveled neoth to the Abajo Mountains.
In 1880 Comb Ridge presented a major obstacle for the Mormon pioneers who were blazing a wagon road through the terribly rugged terrain between Escalante, Utah and the Four Corners Area. The 250 men, women and children of the expedition were fulfilling a “call” from their church to establish a settlement along the banks of the San Juan River.
When they reached the base of Comb Ridge, the Pioneers traveled south down Comb Wash to the San Juan River. At the juncture of the San Juan River (four miles south of here), they labored on a road over the southern slope of Comb Ridge which they named San Juan Hill. Weakened by past barriers and nearby six months under the most trying of circumstances, Comb Ridge proved nearly too much for their worn out wagons and teams. Charles Redd recorded, “By the time most of the outfits were across, the worst stretches could easily be identified by the dried blood and matted hair from the forelegs of the struggling teams.” Within days of crossing over Comb Ridge, the pioneers began to establish their settlement, Bluff City.