I originally expected this post to be titled “Indian Creek and Davis Canyon,” but I underestimated the awesomeness of Indian Creek. Alan and I spent eight hours on Saturday exploring along a stretch of UT-211 just over four miles long and found hundreds of petroglyphs and a few pictographs. I took over 700 photos–my new record for a single day–and Alan took nearly 1,000! We were finding so much rock art along Indian Creek that we never made it to Davis Canyon, and even during the drive back out of Indian Creek we were spotting rock art that we’d missed on the way in. At some point one has to draw the line, though, and if we wanted to make it home before summer we needed to just keep on driving.
Alan planned the trip and we got the usual 6AM start from my place. There was a lot of fog between I-70 and Moab, and south of Moab the roads were snow-covered. We hadn’t planned on there being several inches of new snow in Indian Creek Canyon but it didn’t hinder us much. We stopped first just around the corner from Newspaper Rock and looked at some petroglyphs and inscriptions from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Newspaper Rock was mostly covered with snow. I didn’t really mind the snow over the rock art–it gave it a uniqueness not often seen.
We didn’t have a lot of stops planned for this trip. There were some places where Alan knew of rock art, but for the most part we just drove slowly and stopped whenever either of us saw something. The next stop after Newspaper Rock was one such place with some petroglyphs spotted from the Jeep. There was so little traffic, and so much snow on the shoulder of the road, that I just parked in the travel lane with the hazard lights flashing. There was a very nice panel there with three large bighorn sheep, and nearby was a row of nine smaller sheep.
We made frequent stops and they all blurred into one another. I lost track of the number of individual sites we visited. Some rock art panels were very close to road level and others were up steep talus slopes. Most of the sites were within spitting distance of the road but we did hike up a few side canyons. The photos tell the story better than a narrative, so here are a bunch of ’em.
As we approached our last planned stop I took a breather while scrambling up a steep hill and trained my binoculars on the cliffs farther down the canyon. I spotted a granary 0.3 miles away and hoped we’d have time to hiked up to it before the sun set. The panel we were hiking up to, called Fighting Men, had a lot of other great petroglyphs near it. It took Alan and I a while to clear the cliffs in each direction before being sure we’d seen it all, then moved on toward the granary.
We got up to the granary while the sun was still shining. There were a few large abraded (as opposed to pecked) petroglyphs near the granary, along with a LOT of inscriptions. Shadows rose on the cliff walls as Alan and I searched them for more rock art. We found a few more petroglyphs, and I found a cave-like feature but it was too dark for me to explore fully. I took a few photos with the flash on but it wasn’t until after getting home and viewing the photos on my computer that I realized there was an 1899 inscription and some petroglyphs inside.
It got cold quickly with the sun behind the western canyon walls. There was a lot more to see but our exploration was over for the day. It’s somewhat of a long drive for just a daytrip, but I can foresee me going back to Indian Creek again a few more times.