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Lower Butler Wash and More…

Memorial Day Weekend
Sunday, May 29, 2011

After a very windy night, I was up early and on my way south down the Comb Wash Road. I crossed through the Comb on US 163 and drove to the trailhead for Lower Butler Wash. I descended down the old wagon road on foot and made my way towards the San Juan River through the thick vegetation. Once I neared the river, I started to come across some rock art.

At the first large alcove I explored I found this unique petroglyph. I’m not sure what it might represent…any ideas?

Connected Circles by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This ‘lizard-like’ stick figure was nearby, too.

Hello by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Once I reached the mouth of Butler Wash along the San Juan River I came across a bunch of petroglyphs. Many of them were hard to see, like this panel.

Hard to See by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A rider and bighorn above the San Juan River.

Rider Over the San Juan by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here’s one of the larger basketmaker-style anthropomorphs. Even though it’s still hard to make out, it’s a pretty cool petroglyph and it appears there is a smaller figure on it’s shoulder.

Man On Shoulder by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here’s a couple of riders that are standing up on the backs of the animals.

Stand Up Riders Wide by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Just a triangle-shaped anthropomorph with a small head.

Triangle Man with Small Head by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Another very abstract figure that has a stick-figure person within.

On the Ledge by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

While I was searching the area for rock art the wind had really started to pick up. I especially noticed it as I hiked out of the canyon on the old wagon road. Once back at the Jeep I crossed the highway again so that I could visit the Wolfman Panel since it has been a few years since I was there last.

Looking up at a portion of the Wolfman Panel.

Wolfman Panel Vertical by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This portion of the panel is to the left of the section pictured above. There are a number of petroglyphs spread out here including a cool shield-like figure and one that might represent some kind of mask.

Mask & Shield by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

While this figure most likely doesn’t represent a ‘wolfman’ since large hands and feet are common in basketmaker petroglyphs, it certainly looks like one to me!

The Wolfman by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After visiting the Wolfman Panel I crossed the canyon and climbed up to the ruins on the other side. There was plenty more faint rock art to be found here, too.

Wolfman Ruin by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Wolfman Ruin Opposite by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The wind was really blowing and kicking up a lot of dust throughout the hike, but I just had to go search out one more petroglyph that I was hoping to find this weekend…

At last! I finally made it to the Big Crane petroglyph. It’s an amazing petroglyph and has been quickly added to my favorites list!

Big Crane by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After finding the Big Crane and getting thoroughly sandblasted, I was beginning to get a little tired of the wind. I decided to head to the Twin Rocks Cafe in Bluff for some lunch (and to get out of the wind) and then I would decide what to do. After my burger was gone I decided that I would visit a few more rock art sites and then head back to camp so I could pack up and head home a day early.

Here’s a panel I wasn’t expecting and spotted just off the road near Bluff on a large boulder.

Highway Boulder Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stop by the petroglyphs at Sand Island since I was nearby. I seem to visit this panel at least once a year. The masks in this section remind me of The Green Mask I visited in April.

Sand Island Masks by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A sheep playing the flute at Sand Island.

Flute Playing Sheep by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When I finished up at Sand Island I headed back through Comb Ridge and up Comb Wash again. The wind was really picking up the dust.

Dust by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Dust Storm by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Even though I ended up going home a day earlier than I had planned, I still managed to have a great weekend. On Memorial Day I even managed to catch up on some much needed rest and relaxation for a change!

>> Lower Butler Wash & More… Photo Gallery


    TOM CRAGER February 25, 2013

    Hi–I have photographed ton’s of rock art along the San Juan both east & west of Butler, and Wolfman, etc. but missed the Crane and the next panel down. Across from Wolfman?

    If you have not been to Procession Panel a few miles north and up near the lip of the Comb Ridge, a must see. let me know. Thanks for the fine picture album.


  2. John Prodger
    John Prodger June 26, 2017

    Came across your web page and you have some great pics.
    However, my wife and I have been to the Wolfman panel a couple of times but have never managed to find ‘Big Crane’. We’re from England and have a planned a trip, including a stay in Bluff, for September but this may well be our last trip (we’re not getting any younger) but would really likje to find ‘Big Crane’!
    Have you, by any chance, got the exact directiond to that site? I’d really appreciate you sharing it with me!
    Kind regards,

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