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McDonald Creek & Book Cliffs Rock Art

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Here are some photos I took on a local day trip into McDonald Creek and the Book Cliffs near the Colorado-Utah state line. Of course, I was searching for rock art…

First up was a nice hike down McDonald Creek to the Colorado River. I’ve hiked this canyon before, but realized that I missed some rock art on my previous trip. It was a good opportunity to re-photograph the sites I had visited previously, too.

A very small and easily missed set of pictographs.

Small Pictographs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

These pictographs are located in a large alcove overlooking the Colorado River.

McDonald Creek Alcove by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

My favorite panel along McDonald Creek.

The Bird and the Sun by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After finishing up the hike I headed north to the Book Cliffs to revisit a few more rock art sites and find two new ones. I ended up finding the two new panels that I had not been able to find before, plus I found a third site that I just happened to stumble upon.

This little guy welcomes you into the canyon.

Waving Hello by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I’m posting this photo because if you look very closely you can see a faint shield-like figure that appears to have legs. This is the second shield figure like that that I have found in the Book Cliffs, and they are very similar.

Horned Shield with Legs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A busy panel high up on the canyon wall.

Westwater High Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Handprints…most likely Ute or Paiute.

Ute Hands by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A large horseback rider painted in a yellow pigment. Plenty of other figures and handprints painted here, too.

The Yellow Rider by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This shield figure sure looks like a baseball to me!

The Baseball by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Ute or Paiute petroglyphs carved over Barrier Canyon Style pictographs.

Ute Over BCS by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A full view of the Barrier Canyon Style panel.

Westwater BCS by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Three fading shields painted in a large alcove.

Fading Shields Alcove by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

…and here we have the third shield-like figure like this that I have found in the Book Cliffs. This one is the best preserved, too. This is actually the pictograph I stumbled on accidentally while I was searching for another panel. A great accidental find!

Horned Shield II by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I had searched for these pictographs previously without any luck, so it was great to actually find them this time. I have read that this scene may depict a birth.

Book Cliffs Birth Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer look at part of the above panel.

On the Inside by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Before heading home I had to stop at the broken Robidoux Panel again.

Broken by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The last new panel I found on this trip…I can’t believe I missed this one before!

Three Canyons Petroglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

>> McDonald Creek & the Book Cliffs Rock Art Trip Report


  1. Harvey Halpern
    Harvey Halpern January 17, 2013

    Wow, you’ve got some great rock art photographs. Do I have it right that you’ve viewed all of this on dayhikes??? Amazing. I tend to get to far more remote spots but we have a similar eye. you might enjoy my photographs at

    Keep up the great work!

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat January 17, 2013

      Pretty much all of this was on dayhikes. I finally started backpacking last year so that I can visit some more remote sites that are beyond a dayhike, but I’m only gone on three backpacking trips so far. Looking forwards to a few more this year.

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