NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Petroglyph Love, Moab 2009

Mark and Bobbie from Box Canyon Blog are in Moab right now, and that has me thinking of our short time there in 2009. Of all the places we've been it's the one that I can't wait for us to get back to.  We were only there for a few days, and it's a place that grew on me quickly.

Unfortunately I'm not as poetic as Mark, if you want to read about the throes of ecstasy seeing all that red rock can bring, head on over to his blog and see it through his eyes.  All I know is before we left I was in Love with a capital L, and I've spent every white midwest winter since then dreaming of snow drifting across that Entrada and Navajo Sandstone.

I wrote about our trip and my dreaming of returning in another post, but I thought I'd take the time to revisit the topic and go into a little depth about a new obsession that our trip awakened besides the red rock...petroglyphs.

When we stopped into the Moab visitor center a lovely lady told us we should check out some of the area petroglyphs and gave us a brochure detailing how to find them. Petroglyphs are pecked into or incised on stone walls, and pictographs were painted on stone. We haven't seen any pictographs yet, but certainly enjoyed the petroglyphs. If you want to know a little more about the rock art and the people who made it, go here.

 We started with the 125 foot panel on Potash Road.  The black patina on these sandstone cliffs is especially good for petroglyphs and the images represent a wide variety of topics from  hunting to ceremonial practices to domestic life.  Dating the rock art is difficult, but most of the rock art in the area is from multiple periods. The figures seemed so alien, but I've since done some homework and they make sense when you know the history.

What we thought looked like aliens is probably Fremont warriors with shields wearing ear bobs that hang down to their shoulders and possibly a headdress.

This one really confused me with all the lines, but after reading about the giant desert centipedes that live in the region it all clicked. The small figure in the middle toward the bottom looks like an archer chasing a big horn sheep.

This one was a little more obviously a hunting scene, including archers, big horn sheep and a rather large bear!

Looks like a scorpion on the bottom left, and some type of bird figure on the far right.  The figures holding hands are perhaps women dancing. 

We were so enthralled by these images from the past that we also searched out the boulder with the birthing scene. It took us awhile to find, but I was glad that we didn't give up!

There is some debate as to whether it really is a birthing scene or just an enlarged vulva meant to depict fertility, but either way it is still a unique representation. Ranger Kathryn's blog, which I found this morning, says a breech birth...hmmm, makes sense!  There are a variety of images on the boulder. As for the image below...I still don't have a clue!  Witch on a broomstick since it's almost Halloween?  Maybe someone can help me out!

There is only one petroglyph site open to the public in Wisconsin at Roche-a-Cri State Park. I meant to get there this year but I guess it will have to wait until next year because it's a 3 hour drive from here and there is a lot more to see in the area so I'll want to make it a camping trip.

I also read a couple of great books by Craig Childs that fueled my new obsession about ancient southwestern culture.  I may not be as obsessed as he is...but I did get some great ideas for future trips, including a desire to go visit Chaco Culture. When you're traveling you just never know where your adventures will really end up taking you.  I know I got a lot more out of our trip to Moab than I had planned on!


  1. Despite the number of years we lived in Salt Lake City, and the many visits we made to the national parks in the state, Moab somehow slipped through the cracks ... it won't when we go back sometime in the next couple of years.

  2. Thanks for the link up, guys :)
    If one must have an "obsession," petroglyphs are at least legal. Spring and fall in Utah's canyons; it's hard to beat. Nice write up, too.
    Box Canyon Mark

  3. What timing! I just returned today from a trip to Arizona and Utah, spending the bulk of the two weeks in the Moab area! We love it too; there's something about the red sandstone that gets into your blood. We've visited the area almost every year for the last 20 years, and we still have not seen all the nooks and crannies of the place.