Press "Enter" to skip to content

Salt Creek Exploring & The Drive Home

Memorial Weekend in The Needles | Day 3
Memorial Day | Monday, May 28, 2012

After another night of great camping weather we had some breakfast and set out hiking so that we could visit the Flying Carpet Panel. We also explored a few small side canyons before hiking back out to our vehicles near Cave Spring.

This is one of my favorite Barrier Canyon Style pictograph panels, but unfortunately I haven’t made it here in good light yet. Maybe next time…

Flying Carpet Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here’s Jared taking a photo for some scale of the figures painted here.

Jared and the Carpet by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Another panel of pictographs nearby.

One Arm Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here’s one more photo of the ‘Flying Carpet’ that I liked.

Flying Carpet by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

On our way back to camp, either Jared or Brian (I can’t remember which?) spotted this large ‘bullseye’ petroglyph high up on the canyon wall. It appears to be comprised out of small triangles if you look closely. We didn’t climb up to it and I didn’t have my long lens with me, so this was the best photo I got.

Bullseye by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A small yellow anthropomorph with a few faded handprints.

Yellow Anthropomorph by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A couple white anthropomorphs with a pair of red handprints.

White Men by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After photographing the white figures above, I spotted a few very vivid white pictographs on the opposite side of the canyon. They were large and easy to see, so I quickly hiked their direction. The first one I came across has a very unique design that I don’t recall seeing before.

White Cross by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I liked how the large crack in the sandstone kind of leads up to the pictograph above.

Cracked Shield by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

As I hiked over to the next large white pictographs I came across a few sections of handprints, including these that are laid out in a grid.

Checkerboard Hands by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The next set of white pictographs I came across were pretty cool, too!

White Circles by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I really like this one.

Concentric Man by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Jared and Brian came across this old structure. I’m not quite sure if it is ancient or perhaps just an old cowboy shelter? However, the ceiling of the alcove was covered with handprints, so it might be pretty old?

Structure by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We also found this large corrugated potsherd nearby.

Corrugated by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here are just a few of the handprints found on the ceiling of the alcove. They were all over!

Ceiling Hands by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After literally running from giant swarms of mosquitoes (you probably think I am exaggerating…I assure you I am not!) on our hike back out of Salt Creek Canyon, we finally made it back to our vehicles so that we could start the drive back home.

As we drove out through Indian Creek Canyon we made one stop so that I could show Jared a new petroglyph panel.

Indian Creek Petroglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

My favorite part of this panel.

On the Inside by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

By this time I was getting pretty hungry, so I said goodbye to Jared and Brian and then made my way over to Monticello for some lunch. When I was done eating I decided to drive home the long way on Colorado 141 after driving due east from Monticello. This would allow me to make a few quick stops at a few petroglyph sites I’ve been meaning to visit for a while.

My first stop was at the Gypsum Gap Rockshelter found between Disappointment Valley and Big Gypsum Valley. The petroglyphs here were pretty faint to begin with and there was also a bit of graffiti. Here are the best photos I was able to get.

Gypsum Gap Petroglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Gypsum Gap Sheep by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

My next stop was at a site I have wanted to get to for a while and my main reason for taking the long way home. This unusual petroglyph panel is found on a large boulder near the Dolores River and Big Gypsum Valley. I didn’t know exactly where it was when I started looking, but I managed to find it pretty quickly. These unique petroglyphs are believed to be a cross between the Glen Canyon Style and the Uncompahgre Style.

Ancient Aliens by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

As I continued the drive home along the Dolores River, I also stopped at one more panel near the road that I had visited a few years ago with only a point & shoot camera.

Bear Paws by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

As I was driving through the Dolores River Canyon I noticed there was a lot of smoke in the air from the Sunrise Mine wildfire near Paradox. The sun was also getting low on the horizon which made for some beautiful conditions in the canyon. I stopped a few times to take photos.

Colorado 141 by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Dolores River Cliffs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Dolores River Sunset by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Sunset on the granite of Unaweep Canyon as I finish the drive home. You can even see some smoke low on the horizon from the wildfire.

Unaweep Canyon by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I made it home just after it got dark out, thus ending an awesome long weekend spent hiking and exploring The Needles with a few friends. I already can’t wait to go back!

>> Salt Creek Exploring & The Drive Home Photo Gallery


    TOM CRAGER June 17, 2012

    Just a short note to say we enjoyed your rock art photos. A lot older then you been crawling around Az, Ut, sites for a couple decades now. You think you’ve seen them all then “Magic Carpet” shows up. Plan hiking in Maze to photograph The Harvest Scene” this fall. Nice Barrier Cyn style picto’s. If you’ve done that hike from the Maze Overlook, any comment?

    Thanks, Tom

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat June 17, 2012

      Thanks Tom. I haven’t hiked down the trail from the Maze Overlook yet, so I really can’t help you there. When I hiked to the Harvest Scene I started from the Chimney Rock trailhead.

  2. Tyler Housholder
    Tyler Housholder July 12, 2014

    First of all, I appreciate the time you put into this blog to share your awesome experiences finding wonderful hidden treasures in the incredible southwest. It is such a wonderland of mystery and adventure!
    I was wondering (and hopeful) that you share the location of these sites you find. I understand the reasoning many photographers have in not disclosing this info. But I was hopeful that maybe I could get some tips from you. I am from the Salt Lake area and have been to Island in the Sky a couple of times, but have really wanted to plan some extensive trips into the Maze and the Needles areas. Let me know if you would be willing to shed some light on this “newby.” Thanks

Leave a Reply