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Book Cliffs Loop

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Since there really hasn’t been any snow to speak of in the area so far this year, I thought it would be a good time to go for a drive up into the Book Cliffs just over the state line in Utah so we could visit some rock art sites that I haven’t been to in a while and that Diane hadn’t seen before. We left home on Saturday morning and took I-70 to the Westwater Exit where we headed north into the Book Cliffs following along Westwater Creek. Unfortunately, even though temperatures were mild, the sky was pretty overcast for much of the day, so I didn’t take too many photos from our journey, aside from of the rock art and a couple of times when the sun did briefly peek out. So if you aren’t interested in seeing a bunch of photos of rock art, you might just want to skip this trip report…

Here are a couple of photos from the first set of pictograph panels we visited which are located high above the road on private property.

High Pictographs

High Pictographs II

Driving into East Canyon in search of rock art in the Book Cliffs.

East Canyon Morning Drive

A nice petroglyph panel on a large boulder.

Three Forks Petroglyphs

There were a few deer walking around in East Canyon as we drove by, so I stopped for a couple of pictures.

Walking Deer

Looking At Me

Petroglyphs on a boulder.

Boulder Petroglyphs

Red Handprints

Red Hands

One of my favorite panels in the area that features Ute petroglyphs over older Barrier Canyon Style pictographs.

Barrier Canyon Style Pictographs

The Baseball Panel

Baseball Panel

A large yellow pictograph of a rider on a horse.

The Yellow Rider

Driving along Westwater Creek as the sun came out again.

Westwater Creek

Another of my favorite pictographs in the area of a horned shield. This seems to be a common style found in this part of the Book Cliffs.

Horned Shield

Another nice panel of pictographs that I’ve seen called a ‘birthing scene’ before.

Book Cliffs Pictographs


While searching for historic inscriptions I came across this carving from 1922.


While we were driving up the canyon I remembered that my friend Dennis had visited a Denis Julien inscription somewhere in the area earlier this year. I had no other information with me besides that memory, so I decided to keep an eye out for it and we spent a little time searching around the areas that I thought might be likely places to find it. I’m happy to report that we were able to locate it! It looks like it says: D Julien 1830

D Julien 1830

There are a lot of petroglyphs and pictographs depicting horseback riders in this canyon which makes sense since it was part of the Old Trappers Trail between the Grand Valley and Uinta Basin.


Among a number of other inscriptions, we also spotted this deeply carved W.J.S. 1896.

W.J.S. 1896

Another horseback rider petroglyph, this time with dots underneath.


Shortly before exiting Hay Canyon onto the Book Cliffs Ridge Road we passed this sign along the road about a life lost in a Horse Accident on the old wagon road through the canyon. I did a little searching when I got home for more information about this incident, but didn’t find anything. If you know anything else, please let me know in the comments.

Horse Accident

After reaching the top of the ridge we followed the road east and took a short detour to explore part of South Canyon. Then we descended into San Arroyo Canyon and followed the road along Bitter Creek out of the Book Cliffs where we met up with the old highway near Mack, Colorado to complete the loop. It was a nice easy day not far from home.

>> Book Cliffs Loop Photo Gallery

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