Press "Enter" to skip to content

Exploring The Esplanade

The Hades Site | Veterans Day Weekend
Thursday – Sunday, November 8-11, 2018

Over the past couple of years I have been trying to spend a long weekend during the late fall searching for Grand Canyon Polychrome Pictographs on the Esplanade in the Grand Canyon. This year Diane and I met up with our friend Jerry and went on a three day – two night backpacking trip in search of the Hades Site. Diane and I left after work on Wednesday evening and spent the night in St. George so we could see if the ancient mug I found earlier this year was on display yet. Unfortunately, it was not on display when we stopped by the BLM Visitor Center on Thursday morning since it’s apparently in Cedar City right now for some reason, but at least we were able to sleep in later and not have to drive very far this morning.

Sunset at our camp on the Kanab Plateau. It got pretty cold out once the sun went down.

Kanab Plateau Camp

We met up with Jerry for lunch and then headed over to the Arizona Strip to start our trip together. Of course, we made a few quick stops along the way at a few other rock art sites. We spent the first night camped up on the Kanab Plateau after a cold front had just moved through the area and the temperature dropped down into the lower 20’s. It was a pretty cold night, but we managed to stay warm. Thankfully, the temperature at night was a little bit warmer once we were down below the rim. There was not a cloud in the sky during our entire trip, so we didn’t get to watch any amazing sunsets or sunrises this time, plus the view to the south rim was hazy everyday which was most likely caused by smoke from the wildfires in California that we didn’t yet know about. Even though it had rained pretty good in the area a few weeks prior, we weren’t sure how much water we would still be able to find so we decided to carry most of the water we would need for the entire trip. That turned out to be a good call since we didn’t find very much water at all, although it sucked carrying the extra weight. Here are a few photos from our long weekend trip into the Grand Canyon.

A narrow strip of white pictographs.

Narrow Strip Pictographs

The glow of soft light on the Esplanade long after the sun had gone down.

After Sunset Glow

The Hades Site was definitely the highlight of the entire trip! The detail in these pictographs are spectacular!

The Hades Site

The Cookie Cutter Panel

Cookie Cutter Panel

A closer look at these petroglyphs that have eroded away in an interesting way.

Deep Petroglyphs

Since there were no clouds in the sky at all during our entire trip, I had to add a few sunstars instead!

Pictographs Under The Sun

A broken point Diane found along our route on the Esplanade.


The Busy Panel

The Busy Panel

The skull of a bighorn sheep ram.

Ram Skull

Spirits emerging from the back of the shallow alcove.

Emerging Spirits

One of the very few potholes with water that we would find during our hike.

A Little Water

A few potsherds we found below the ledges of our second campsite.


Esplanade Camp at Dusk

Esplanade Camp at Dusk

The Cave of Birds

Cave of Birds

This was one of the more colorful pictographs we saw.

Corner Pictographs

An evening at camp shortly before sunset.

Evening At Camp

White Sheep Pictographs

Sheep Pictographs

Two heads are better than one…

Two Heads

I know it’s hard to tell the scale from these photos, but this is a very long white pictograph. It must have been longer than six or seven feet!

Long White Paintings

Watching the sun drop below the cliffs as we ate our dinner on the Esplanade.

Last of the Light

The next two photos are of some interesting designs painted on the ceiling of a low alcove that were difficult to photograph.

Alcove Paintings

Overhang Designs

This figure is painted sideways at the back of an alcove.


A small canyon cutting through the sandstone of the Esplanade.

Little Esplanade Canyon

I like the tiled design of this figure.

Colored Tiles

The Hades Site Alcove with a little sunstar.

Hades Alcove

White pictographs in a line…

The Lineup

Morning on the Esplanade.

Esplanade Morning

A few faint mud paintings.

Mud Paintings

I don’t think it is, but it sure looks like elaborate antlers are painted on this white sheep.


Our final evening view on the Esplanade.

Evening On The Esplanade

As we hiked out of the canyon on Sunday there was a very frigid wind blowing for most of the day which was pretty unpleasant to hike in, but at least it wasn’t hot out! We were originally planning on spending one more night on the top of the plateau before driving back home, but because of the wind and colder temperatures we decided just to drive straight home on Sunday evening instead. We arrived home late that night and got to relax all day Monday before going back to work on Tuesday.

>> Exploring The Esplanade Photo Gallery


  1. Dianne
    Dianne November 15, 2018

    Amazing rock art. I haven’t hiked in that area and don’t expect to at my station of life.
    Thanks so much for sharing your hikes. You are fortunate to have a companion who will share the adventures when she can. Grand Canyon polychromes are spectacular. I have
    been trying to see all I can around Cedar Mesa, but I can’t manage packing and camping.
    You are opening doors for me that I can pursue only through books and web sites. Keep
    them coming! BTW, wow! “Your mug” is stunning. Thanks for getting it preserved for posterity.

  2. Stephanie
    Stephanie November 15, 2018

    Wow! I didn’t know there was so much rock writing in GCNP. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Randy
    Randy November 15, 2018

    Exceptional quality as always, thanks.

Leave a Reply