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Light, Clouds and Hiking Around Moab

Moab Area Rock Art XVIII | In Search of the Polka Dot Man
Saturday, January 7, 2012

After taking the first weekend of 2012 off to get a little rest, it was time to get back out there and start exploring again. I was up bright and early to drive to Moab so I could meet up with Marty and search for some new petroglyphs that I had been unable to find on two previous trips. On the way I was treated to an awesome sunrise and had to stop a few times to take photos.

As I neared the Fisher Towers the sky and clouds began to light up. It was an amazing display!

Fisher Towers Sunrise by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer look at the Fisher Towers.

Sky on Fire by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After finally reaching Moab and meeting up with Marty we drove up the Poison Spider Trail so that we could begin our hike.

Poison Spider Jeep by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We hiked into a land of fins and mazes to try and find the petroglyphs I was looking for. I had tried to find these particular panels twice before from below, but had no luck. I was hoping to reach them from above, but that also proved to be difficult. Eventually we did manage to find the area that I thought the petroglyphs might be in, but we could find no way down from above. We tried scrambling down a steep boulder-filled gap between large fins, but were turned back by a ten foot dryfall that we could not climb down. We climbed back up to the top and made our way back to our Jeeps. We didn’t find the petroglyphs from up here, but it was a beautiful area to hike around in.

We found this arch as we explored around the Poison Spider Trail. When I got back home, I looked it up and found out that it’s known as Longbow Arch.

Longbow Arch by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We did not reach the area with the petroglyphs from above, but while we were up there exploring I spotted a possible route from below that I had not tried yet. We still had plenty of daylight left, so I talked Marty into trying to reach them from below again. As luck would have it, this route worked out well and only involved a little bit of scrambling. We were soon in the sandy pocket hidden within the fins.

As we hiked across the sand, Marty spotted this apparent grave site. Anyone out there know anything about it?

Sandy Grave by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Finally! The first petroglyphs of the day. I was getting worried that we wouldn’t find anything new today!

Zigzag Snakes by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

These faded petroglyphs were nearby.

Circles by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After searching the area I finally found the petroglyph I was looking for; The Polka Dot Man. This figure is much larger than it looks in the photo. It’s located high up on the sandstone wall, so I had to crop this photo pretty good. I’m going to need to return with my telephoto lens in the future for a better photo.

Polka Dot Man by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This awesome panel was also found nearby.

Big Elk Panelramic by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Marty picks his way through the boulders to come see the petroglyphs.

In the Boulders by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There was also a great view from up near the petroglyphs.

Sea of Fins by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After hiking back down and parting ways with Marty, I grabbed a quick dinner in town and then drove back to Castle Valley for sunset since it looked like it was going to be a good one.

Light & Clouds by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Filtered Light by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Mesa Light by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I really got lucky with the clouds and light at both sunrise and sunset today. Plus I found the petroglyph panel I was looking for; I guess the third time is the charm! Who could ask for a better day of exploring?

>> Light, Clouds and Hiking Around Moab Photo Gallery


  1. Monica Holyoak
    Monica Holyoak December 15, 2016

    Hi! I live in Moab. I made an attempt to get to the polka dot man this morning. I tried coming down from Longbow arch and hit a dry fall. I tried coming up from the hwy below and hit a spot that I couldn’t scramble up. I’m wondering how you made it into that area. Would you mind sharing your route with me?

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat December 15, 2016

      Monica, it took me a few tries to figure out how to reach this area. My first try was from the highway and I also got stopped by a spot I couldn’t scramble up. I was never able to find a way down from above on my second try. In the end I had to start from the highway and just face my fears and scramble up the section that had stopped me the first time.

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