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Rock Art Along the Reef

San Rafael Swell Rock Art X | Sunday, January 25, 2015

A few years ago Marty and I had spent our New Year’s Eve along the San Rafael Reef in search of rock art. That day we found some new panels but were unable to find a few others. We decided to head back there today so we could try again. I met Marty in Green River at 7:00am this morning and we took off for a day of hiking and exploring along the San Rafael Reef.

Alpenglow lights up the San Rafael Reef as we drive to the trailhead for our first hike of the day

Morning Reef

Soon the sun lit up the landscape around us.

Along the Reef

Nice golden light on my Jeep and the San Rafael Reef in front of us.

Golden Light

We started out by trying to find an old petroglyph panel that features a large snake. This was one of the panels we had unsuccessfully tried to find on our previous trip. This time I walked right up to it and found it rather quickly. I know I had searched this particular area last time, so I have no idea how I could have missed it?

There are many very interesting petroglyphs found at this site including the very large and detailed snake carved into the black section, but they are tricky to photograph. The following image is a vertical panorama made from four photos. Look closely to see all the details.

Snake Site

Here’s a closer look at one of the more interesting sections of the panel.

Snake Panel Details

After finding the Snake Site we hiked back to the trailhead and started our search for another group of pictographs that we were unable to find on our last visit. I thought I had a good idea where they might be this time, but it turns out that I was wrong. We hiked up and down a wash searching for them without any luck, but decided to try one other wash nearby before giving up. As we hiked down this small wash things didn’t look promising, but then I spotted them in this unlikely location. It’s a good thing we didn’t give up sooner.

Marty follows me as we drive away from the Reef on our way to the next hike.

Marty's Liberty

Many small pictographs hidden under a shallow overhang.

Shallow Niche


These two figures were found on the other side of the wash.

Red Twins

Lines & Circles

After finding the pictographs we drove over to Lost Spring to see if we could find anything near there. We didn’t find too much here, but there were a few small panels mostly consisting of fingerprints and lines.

Finger Marks


There were a couple of handprints, too.

Hands Above

We made a quick stop at the Buried Site.

Buried Site

Lastly, we hiked up another canyon that cuts into the San Rafael Reef to visit a few more pictograph sites that Marty had not been to before.

Nice light as we hiked up a short side canyon.

Side Canyon Hiking

A cool pictograph found at the Ekker Site.

Arm of Sheep

Hiking back down a boulder-strewn canyon.

Boulder-Filled Canyon

Before hiking back to the Jeep we climbed up to a small alcove that contains this Barrier Canyon Style pictograph.

High Alcove Pictograph

View down into the canyon from the high alcove.


It was almost sunset when we reached the vehicles, so we decided to call it a day and drove back to Green River for some burgers from Ray’s Tavern before finishing the drive back home.

>> Rock Art along the Reef Photo Gallery


  1. Geckostone
    Geckostone January 27, 2015

    Hi Randy. I came over here from the facebook group “Explorers…” Your trips are wonderful to read about and your photography is breathtaking! I put up a link on my blog to your web sites! Thanks for the great posts! Debbie Meekona (Geckostone)

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat January 27, 2015

      Thank you Debbie. I’ll have to check out your blog 🙂

  2. John Spurr
    John Spurr February 9, 2015

    As always, terrific images! I especially like High Alcove Pictograph… wonderful picto and great image of it. I think I remember that you posted it. Since it was in an alcove, I imagine a high ISO was used (I know you typically leave your ISO on auto). Do you ever use flash for something like this?

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat February 10, 2015

      John, the shallow alcove was in the direct sunlight when I took this photo, so my ISO was at 100. I don’t even own a flash for my camera.

      • John Spurr
        John Spurr February 10, 2015

        Thanks, Randy!

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