Butterfly Bend

Having recently become aware that the town of Green River has been mostly snow-free all winter, while here in Price we’ve had over a foot of the white stuff lingering for quite a while, I headed south for an enjoyable hike in sunny t-shirt weather. Butterfly Bend is a spot along the Green River that holds some pretty out-of-the-ordinay rock art. Not only are the petroglyphs in unusual locations–many on the horizontal surfaces of boulders–but the glyphs themselves are abstract and don’t conform to much of the region’s rock art.

I parked high on a mesa a couple of miles away from Butterfly Bend. The initial descent down the steep and rocky slope was treacherous, but the rest of the hike through the Morrison Formation badlands was fairly easy. Torrey and Boulder were along for the hike and found plenty of muddy puddles to play in and drink from. Before reaching the rock art site I spotted a corn cob which I surmised must have come from a nearby granary. The drainage I was in was very short and there’s nowhere else from above where the cob could have originated (e.g., a road or corn field). I left the dogs tied up and wandered a short distance among some boulders and cliffs looking for a granary for nearly half an hour but came up empty. I still think there’s one up there, somewhere.

A quite scenic parking spot
A quite scenic parking spot

Morrison Formation badlands
Morrison Formation badlands

Boulder and Torrey on the hunt for some rock art
Boulder and Torrey on the hunt for some rock art

Corn cob found in a small wash
Corn cob found in a small wash

Boulder and Torrey drinking from a muddy, icy pool
Boulder and Torrey drinking from a muddy, icy pool

Searching out a granary among the cliffs and boulders
Searching out a granary among the cliffs and boulders

Not knowing exactly where the rock art was, I approached the river slowly, having to stop every so often to look around with binoculars. When I eventually did spot a boulder with petroglyphs on it, I spent some time trying to find others and fixing their locations in my mind before heading into the boulder field and losing sight of them. I initially tried taking the dogs with me on-leash. That proved difficult so I let them off the leash and then they refused or were unable to climb up and down some of the obstacles along the way. I ended up admitting my mistake in bringing them into the boulders and found a safe place to tie them up, but felt guilty about doing so. Poor, sad puppies! The petroglyphs were so cool, and there were a lot of them. There were even a few inscriptions with familiar names.

Near the bank of the Green River
Near the bank of the Green River

Petroglyphs on a horizontal surface
Petroglyphs on a horizontal surface

Boulder and Torrey near a petroglyph boulder
Boulder and Torrey near a petroglyph boulder

Previously-buried petroglyphs
Previously-buried petroglyphs

Lots of unusual figures
Lots of unusual figures

Circle mouth
Circle mouth

Canine chasing a bighorn sheep
Canine chasing a bighorn sheep

Cranes, one on land and the other in flight
Cranes, one on land and the other in flight

Small frolicking sheep
Small frolicking sheep

More abstract glyphs on a boulder
More abstract glyphs on a boulder

Poorly sheep
Poorly sheep

It’s a…um…chicken and eggs
It's a...um...chicken and eggs

Abstract–possibly human–figure
Abstract--possibly human--figure

Three figures and a canine
Three figures and a canine

Possible canine figure
Possible canine figure

Trapped animal
Trapped animal

More whacky figures
More whacky figures

Bullshit boulder panel
Bullshit boulder panel

Sinclair Gillies and Wayne Smith inscriptions
Sinclair Gillies and Wayne Smith inscriptions

Hidden petroglyphs
Hidden petroglyphs

I sat down atop a low cliff just above the river and ate lunch. Then I dropped below the cliff line and followed the base looking for more rock art, but all I found were a couple of inscriptions. One was particularly interesting. It was written in red pigment and had a human figure near it. The pigment has run and faded, but I believe it says “Dinasar Cove, Apr Th 22, 1888.” I could be wrong about the last two digits of the year, but I believe it definitely is from the late 1800s. I finished poking around the banks of the river and then climbed out on a slightly different route back to the Jeep. The final ascent was arduous, and I did it quickly while my leg muscles burned because I wanted it over with. I’d only hiked about four miles total, but I took my time for most of the hike and enjoyed a pleasant day outside.

View of the Green River from my lunch spot
View of the Green River from my lunch spot

Torrey turning her nose up at my sandwich
Torrey turning her nose up at my sandwich

Historic graffiti
Historic graffiti

Dinasar Cove inscription
Dinasar Cove inscription

John Chidester and W.M.H., 1934
John Chidester and W.M.H., 1934

My Jeep parked on the hill
My Jeep parked on the hill

Old mining track
Old mining track

Steep, loose slope back to the vehicle
Steep, loose slope back to the vehicle


Photo Gallery: Butterfly Bend