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Finding the Solstice Snake

Moab Area Rock Art VII | Sunday, March 6, 2011

On Sunday I met my friend Marty who was going to hike with me to find the Solstice Snake petroglyph. I have been searching for this particular petroglyph for a while and was hoping to find it before this year’s solstice. Marty had visited this petroglyph about 14 years ago and wanted to return. He had a general idea of where it was located, but not an exact location. Luckily, his general location was close enough for us to eventually find it, even after going the wrong way and having to scramble around on many scree slopes. That extra scrambling and searching added an extra 2-3 miles to our hike for a total of 9.75 miles round trip. Even with the extra hiking, it was a great adventure and we had fun searching the area.

The amazing Solstice Snake petroglyph.

The Big Snake by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

It’s a big petroglyph. I’ve been told it’s over 17 feet long. Here’s a photo with me (taken by Marty) for some scale.

The Serpent & I by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Marty with the snake.

Marty & the Snake by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

It appears to be slithering away.

Solar Snake by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Face to face with the serpent.

The Serpent by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After spending some time at with the big snake, we continued our search for a pithouse and ‘Altar Table,’ as Marty referred to it, that was supposed to be nearby. We managed to find these after some searching, too.

We first came across the remains of a pithouse and then found these small petroglyphs on the cliff behind it.

Pithouse Petroglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Next we found some more petroglyphs as we searched for the ‘altar table’

Pithouse Panels by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Some closer views of each panel.

Pithouse Second Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Circles Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Finally we found the ‘Altar Table’ hidden in a small alcove nearby that we had to scramble up to. This is certainly one of the more unique scenes that I have come across while out exploring. Marty has a photos of this same setup that he took 14 years ago and was surprised to see that everything was still there. There were some petroglyphs here, too.

The Altar Table by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Marty at the Altar by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Another small petroglyph panel located above the ‘Altar Table’

Curly Arms by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The hike pretty much took us most of the day and we were pretty worn out by the time we reached our Jeeps, but it was worth it. I’m looking forward to heading back in June for the summer solstice! Though, I could do without the heat that the summer will bring.

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  1. Lorran Meares
    Lorran Meares July 2, 2013

    Hi, Randy,

    Thank you for not giving away the secret. Marty was being very generous by taking you there and it would be a terrible thing for the wrong type of individual to find and deface this site. It’s certainly one of the most amazing solstice markers I’ve ever seen (I’ve been there and photographed the solstice sequence years ago), and would never share it’s location with anyone who was not of the right spirit! Nice work, by the way!

  2. George Turner
    George Turner January 1, 2014

    I am lover of petroglyphs and very respectful of them and would love directions to see the solstice snake so I don’t run the risk of getting heat stroke looking for it. I know you don’t know me , but I have visited many sites and am very careful to not even touch them. Thanks for your trust (if you decide to give directions).

  3. Hermmit
    Hermmit March 14, 2014

    Is there just the one 3.6 mile route are is there a shorter one I can take on the solstice?

  4. gary
    gary June 7, 2015

    It can be shorter if you have a good 4×4. The road progressively gets worse. A mile or two is passable for a regular jeep then it degrades to a point you need a serious rock crawler to go farther. A 4 wheeler or motorcycle could probably go farther but I’m not sure. I believe we cut about 1.5 miles off of the hike, one way, 3 total and we were in a basic jeep wrangler.

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat June 7, 2015

      Gary- I’ve driven the whole trail in my old rock crawler before, but on this trip I didn’t want to see how far I could make it in my JK and just decided to hike it. 🙂

  5. Paul Whiting
    Paul Whiting July 14, 2015

    I’m curious if anyone has opinion that this petroglyph is also a lunar marker. I’ve encountered a number of snake and zig-zag petroglyphs and pictographs and a common denominator is 7 humps and 6 valleys. There are 13 Moons in a year. Is it probable they were keeping track of the lunar cycle from the Solstice?

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