On Saturday morning as I drove south out of town it was a chilly 30 degrees at sunrise. I was heading into the San Rafael Swell east of Ferron to find some rock art that a friend had told me about years ago. The last mile or so of the dirt road leading into the area was washed out badly so I parked the Jeep, leashed up the dogs, and hoofed it. By then it was warm enough that I was comfortable removing my jacket hiking in just a t-shirt. Instead of heading straight toward the rock art, I first checked out a nearby line of cliffs for other rock art or old pioneer/cowboy writings, but found none. I arrived at the rock art, known as the Quail Panel (I suppose because many of the figures have topknots like quail), and found it in poor lighting conditions, half in sunlight and half shaded. There was once a long row of small Fremont figures bearing shields that look like fat little men, each one different in color and shape. Many of the figures are now faded from exposure to the elements while others have spalled off the sandstone despite being sheltered.
I wasn’t specifically aware of any more rock art in the area, but it seemed a likely spot to find more. I hiked around quite a bit more, eventually spending six hours in the area and hiking nearly six miles total. I found an area with a couple of outlined Fremont figures and a strange yellow, white, and red pictograph. That site is heavily used as a shelter by cattle so the ground was covered in shit, but I did manage to find some pieces of plain gray pottery there. Nearby I found some flint chippings at the base of the cliffs, along with a shed snake skin. I also spotted a few petroglyphs a short distance away and found two flat grinding stones there.
As I was making my way back toward the Jeep in the afternoon I found some more pictographs under a shallow overhang that I recognized as Funk’s Cave. There were several interesting Fremont figures on the back wall near a quite remarkable rainbow pictograph. Most rock art rainbows I’ve seen consist of one or two colors (usually just red, or red and white), but this one had five or six colors. Among the figures in the overhang was a very faded white one that I really liked–it must have looked great when it was fresh. I continued toward the Jeep and found a couple of boulders with old names and initials from the late 1800s and early 1900s along with a couple of less interesting petroglyphs. I got back to the Jeep feeling pretty good about having found much more than I was expecting.