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Montezuma Canyon Rock Art & Ruins

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Another weekend on my own, so I decided to spend some time really exploring Montezuma Canyon for rock art and ruins. I have driven through the canyon before, but that was during a rainstorm in 2008 and I missed a lot on that trip. This time I started at the south end near the old Hatch Trading Post and ended up going about 15-20 miles up the canyon before turning back around. I only knew the locations of a few rock art panels and ruins, but I managed to find quite a lot on my own. I’m sure I missed many others, so I know I’ll be heading back there again in the future.

The first of a few horse petroglyphs I would find in the canyon. This one seems to be emerging from the crack in the wall.

First Horse by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I managed to spot these faint concentric circles high up on a cliff from the road and then hiked over to investigate.

Fading Circles by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After spotting this spiral carved onto the top of a large boulder in an alcove, I noticed the other faint carvings around it. A few of them look like birds feet? It also appears there are some sandal prints up near the spiral. Based on the location of these petroglyphs, it makes me wonder if there is any light interaction on them during the solstice or equinox…

Bird Feet? by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I spotted this panel tucked under an overhang high above and climbed up to find a pretty impressive and well preserved panel.

Duckhead Party by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

What looks like a coyote as part of the same panel above.

Coyote by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I found these two horses on a ledge below the panel posted above.

Two Horses by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer look at one of the above horses.

A Horse by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here’s a small ruin with an anthropomorphic petroglyph above.

Petroglyph Over Ruin by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

These feet and spiral were located nearby.

Feet by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The spiral with it’s ‘tail’

Spiral Tail by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I spotted these high above up a very steep talus slope. Even with my binoculars, I wasn’t sure if they were petroglyphs or not, but I finally convinced myself to make the climb and check it out. As you can see, they were petroglyphs! I walked the ledge in search of more, but only found a few very faint petroglyphs that I couldn’t really make out.

Antenna Men by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Another small granary near the road.

Montezuma Granary by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

These were located right next to the road and easy to spot…if you are looking…

Roadside Petroglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A cool granary known as the Honeycomb Granary. Next time I need to climb up to it for a different perspective.

Honeycomb from Below by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This petroglyph panel depicts a horse-drawn wagon and some other horses.

Wagon Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Another petroglyph I almost missed because I couldn’t tell if it was actually one. Luckily I made the hike up to this one, since there were some other glyphs in the area, a few small ruins and plenty of large potsherds.

Crescent Head by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A few of the larger petroglyphs I found at the site mentioned above. This one seems to be missing it’s lower half. These anthropomorphs are wearing headdresses similar to the figures on the Butler Wash Panel along the San Juan River.

Half Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A large horse’s head petroglyph.

Horse Head by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Looking up at some larger anthropomorphs.

Disappearing Anthropomorphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here’s a very well defined panel with a small elk, an anthropomorph and a few other figures.

Elk Designs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

One of my favorite panels that I visited this day. I was tipped off to it’s location by a friend.

Four Cranes by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A big petroglyph panel containing some riders on horseback, a few elk and what looks like a couple of buffalo.

Buffalo Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After I finished up searching for rock art and ruins in Montezuma Canyon, I made my way towards Hovenweep to find a campsite for the night.

>> Montezuma Canyon Rock Art & Ruins Photo Gallery


  1. Georgia stone
    Georgia stone April 10, 2017

    These are beautiful, but wouldn’t it be nice if we had some coordinates and directions. We are headed that way tomorrow, hoping we can find a few.

  2. Bryon Jones
    Bryon Jones March 5, 2019

    It’s very little known, but in Montezuma Canyon there is a very large village site that is absolutely incredible to explore

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