A beautifully executed Basketmaker petroglyph of what appears to be a large crane, hidden in one of the many canyons of Comb Ridge. With this photo I tried to convey the perception of the crane in flight by using the natural striations in the sandstone. The small curved step in the sandstone below the large bird gave me a nice lower frame for the scene, as well. Comb Ridge holds many secrets for those willing to explore it, and this large crane petroglyph is surely one of the numerous exceptional ones!
This historical and beautifully incised horse is carved right above the very colorful lichen on this sandstone wall. It is believed that this horse was most likely created by a Ute which may depict their encounters with the U.S. Calvary. The number ‘8’ on the front hip of the horse is most likely a brand that has been traced back to General Crook’s command, who was chasing the Apache through Arizona and New Mexico in the late 1800s. It’s possible this carving may be of a captured horse.
While visiting this site, the biting gnats were terrible! If I stopped moving for more than a few seconds they swarmed around me and were unbearable. As I searched the area I was lucky to find a few of the petroglyphs, including this one, and managed to pull off a few photos before the bugs overran me. I’m sure I missed some petroglyphs at this site since I had to keep moving, so I will need to return another time to finish exploring.
This is just a small portion of the well-known Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel located in the San Rafael Swell. Because of the panel’s close proximity to the Old Spanish Trail and currently next to a wall-traveled road, there has been a steady stream of potential vandals passing by this spot for over two centuries……and vandalize it they did. Thankfully, as part of the 1996 Centennial Celebration, citizens of Emery County initiated the restoration of the Buckhorn Wash Panel.
While I rarely try to figure out the meaning behind the rock art sites I visit (I prefer just to enjoy them for what they are), I did read an interesting theory about this panel in a book called ‘On the Trail of Spider Woman’ by Carol Patterson. While this site is usually categorized as Barrier Canyon Style, LaVan Martineau has presented an interpretation that associates these pictographs with the Hopi Snake Dance Ceremony and dates them from AD 1000 to 1300. It’s an interesting theory and I enjoyed reading about it, but in the end, who really knows? The theory did help me come up with a name for this photo, though.
The Courthouse Wash pictographs located just inside of Arches National Park near Moab are an amazing display of Barrier Canyon Style pictographs. Unfortunately, in 1980 vandals made an effort to destroy this panel by scrubbing it with stiff brushes and a cleaning abrasive. The National Park Service has attempted to repair some of the damage, leaving the panel in the state you see in my photo above. I have seen some photos of this panel pre-1980 and it was definitely an amazing site. I would have loved to have seen it before it was vandalized. This panel really gets washed out while in direct sunlight, but luckily, while I was there a big cloud blocked the sun for a short time and I was able to get a few good shots where I could bring out some more of the details.
I spent many days searching for this particular site. I knew which canyon it was in, but was still unable to find it. After a few trips to the area I was finally able to find these amazing pictographs with the help of a friend, and I realized that they were within my sight all the days I had missed them previously!
This panel is located in a large alcove high above the canyon floor. It’s a bit of a steep scramble to get up there, but well worth the climb.
Once in front of the pictographs, you are treated to an excellent example of Barrier Canyon Style rock art. Inside the large anthropomorph’s mouth is a small blue snake from which this panel’s name derives. I will probably have to post a closer shot of this panel in the future for you to appreciate all of the finer details, but for now just enjoy the scene in it’s surrounding alcove.