Parowan Gap & Little Black Mountain

Arizona Strip & Southern Utah Wanderings | Day 1
Saturday, October 1, 2011

Saturday was the start of my annual ‘Southern Utah Wanderings’ trip that I usually go on in October. This year is a little different since I wanted to venture a little further south so that I could start exploring the Arizona Strip. Like last year, my friend Jared joined me on this trip. He headed down from the Salt Lake area after work on Friday and stayed at my house over night so that we could get an early start driving on Saturday morning.

Saturday would mostly be a driving day, but we did manage to make a few stops along the way. The first of them being a short side trip to the Parowan Gap. The Parowan Gap is one of Utah’s best-known petroglyph sites, which is located in a 600-foot-deep notch through the Red Hills on the eastern edge of the Escalante Desert. I’ve been looking forward to visiting this site for some time.

The ‘Zipper-Glyph’ is probably the most well known petroglyph panel at the site. Some believe the main design that resembles a zipper is a map or a calendar….or maybe even both. All I know is that it is shaped just like the Parowan Gap that it is located near.

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Zipper-Glyph by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer look at another petroglyph panel located next to the ‘Zipper-Glyph’

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Snake-Man by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We walked through the gap keeping a lookout for petroglyphs along the way. When we reached the west side, this is the last boulder we found containing some petroglyphs.

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West Boulder by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Jared spotted these designs that were carved high up near the west side of the gap. I’m glad I had grabbed my long lens when I left the Jeep.

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Upper Designs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We found plenty of petroglyphs on the south side of the gap as well, including some in this small alcove.

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South Alcove Petroglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There were plenty of designs carved into the sandstone like this. These looked like they were pretty old compared to some of the others found in the area.

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Large Faint Designs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here’s an overall view of the ‘Zipper-Glyph’ and surrounding panels in their setting so you can get an idea of the location.

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Parowan Gap Panels by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Before leaving the site, I thought it might be a good idea to get a photo of the actual Parowan Gap. The Jeep wasn’t necessary, but I think it adds to the scene.

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The Parowan Gap by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

On our drive to the Parowan Gap, Jared though he had spotted some petroglyphs along the road so we investigated on the way back to the highway. It turns out he was right, so we hiked up to them and took a few photos. This is the main panel with the Little Salt Lake in the background.

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Little Salt Lake Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer look at some of the petroglyphs found on the above panel.

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Big Hands by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After exploring the Parowan Gap area extensively, we were back on the interstate again headed south. Of course, we had to make the stop in Washington at In-N-Out for a Double Double for dinner. Once our appetites were satisfied we continued down into Arizona just over the border so that we could visit the Little Black Mountain petroglyph site. Apparently there are forty-four boulders located here that contain more than 500 petroglyphs. I’m pretty sure that we didn’t find them all, but we did find many of them.

This is the Little Black Mountain. I know, it’s not black…

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Little Black Mountain by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This was one of the more unique petroglyph settings at the site. The petroglyphs found here are carved on top of this large boulder. It looks like there is a natural pothole on top that holds water, which might be the reason this was an important place here in the desert.

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Boulder Top Petroglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Jared testing out the swivel screen on his new camera body which also helps give this site a little scale.

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Getting the Shot by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Looking up at a smooth surface on a boulder containing more petroglyphs.

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Upper Boulder Petorglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This panel was located on the back of a large boulder.

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Back of the Boulder by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This sun figure was one of the more elaborate petroglyphs found here.

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Dotted Sun by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A look at the large boulder containing the previous petroglyphs. If you look closely you can see plenty of older petroglyphs carved into the boulder with plenty of newer ones, too. This location was probably used for a long time.

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Dotted Sun Boulder by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A few faint and simple petroglyphs on a boulder that frames the landscape in the background nicely.

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Framing the Landscape by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Jared photographing some petroglyphs located near ground level on a large boulder.

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Low Petroglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After searching for petroglyphs at the base of Little Black Mountain for a while, it was starting to get late. We decided to setup camp nearby and then headed back over to get some sunset photos. Here’s the large boulder containing a bunch of petroglyphs lit of by the setting sun with a few nice clouds in the background.

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Petroglyph Sunset by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A view over Dutchman Wash as the landscape is bathed in the last sunlight of the day.

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Dutchman Wash by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The clouds even got a little color as the sun dipped below the horizon. It was a great start to the trip.

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Dutchman Sunset by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Once the sun was down and the colors in the sky gone we hiked back over to camp so we could get some sleep. The weather was perfect. I ended up sleeping with my tent opened up so that I could have a great view of the night sky. I wish I had tried to take some night photos, but I figured that I would have plenty of other opportunities on the trip….I would be wrong.

>> Full Parowan Gap & Little Black Mountain Photo Gallery


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