You are here

Captured in Stone

Great Gallery, Canyonlands National Park, photo by Kurt Repanshek
Kurt Repanshek
Thursday, July 30, 2009

What were the artists behind these incredible, greater-than-life-size images trying to say? What messages were they sending? Were they just doodling during a camp, or were the artists shamans trying to communicate with another people, another world?

You've got to work a bit to stand before these images, which some believe are 7,000 years old. Located in the Horseshoe Canyon annex to Canyonlands National Park, they are found along a dusty draw. But before you reach the trailhead, which lies on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property, you need to travel along 30 miles of graded dirt road -- which can be covered in sand on occasion -- from Utah Highway 24. Or you can travel along 47 miles of dirt road south from Green River, Utah. Either way, it can be a tooth-rattling drive. Driving time is roughly 2.5 hours from Moab or 1.5 hours from Green River.

From the west rim trailhead, the hike to the Great Gallery is 6.5 miles round-trip, descending 750 feet and requiring about six hours. Pets are prohibited below the rim of Horseshoe Canyon. Oh, and don't forget to bring plenty of water. You can get awfully parched on this trek, but the payoff is worth the effort.

Or, _very_ similar artwork can be found in Devil's Lane in the Needles District. Again, bring lots of water: its 5-6 miles from the end of the "road" at Elephant Hill. I rode past Elephant Hill once in an NPS Bronco driven by a _very_ skilled 4'10" technician: I know I'll never attempt to drive that hill.

Or, near sunset, grab a good beer, drive 279 toward Potash from the tailings pile across from the entrance to Arches, pull over along the river, and you can see some not quite as nice art (plus recent "additions").

Craig Childs knows where even better art is located, but he's not saying...

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide