I had Monday off work and went on an exploratory trip to the Little Park Wash area. I’d read about some rock art somewhere in the wash, though I didn’t know exactly where it was. Little Park Wash drains a fairly large area on top of the Book Cliffs between Lila Canyon and the Price River, and I decided to start looking near the upper end of the drainage. There was a smidge of snow on the road while climbing up from Horse Canyon. I stopped several times to take in some wonderful views from the top of the Book Cliffs, and also to look at a boulder that had a square carved into the top and the letters “BM” carved deeply into it. I imagine that it must be a survey marker of sorts.
I started hiking when I got to the part of upper Little Park Wash where sandstone first begins to crop out along the wash. While exploring around the edges of the wash I found an old camp with rusty cans, old bottles and jars, and a single piece of drill core on the ground. I also found an irregularly-shaped arrowhead with a broken tip. There were some cliffs that I was hoping could hold rock art or historic inscriptions but they turned out to be a poor quality rock for such writings. I climbed a short distance out of the wash to check out a gap in the cliffs and was surprised to find that there was a break in the other side of the cliffs that led all the way to the valley floor below. It was clear from the tracks on the ground that wildlife takes advantage of the break in the cliffs to traverse the Book Cliffs. In the future I may try hiking up or down the gap and combining it with a stock trail farther south to make a loop.
After hiking down the wash a little farther, I turned around without having seen much else of interest. I returned to the Jeep and explored a couple of roads in the Little Park area. I encountered what appeared to be an old grazing exclosure with faded signs from the Colorado Fuel and and Iron Corporation on the fencing. Another road ended at a corral that looks like it still sees occasional use. I’d hoped to do another short hike to the top of the Cove Trail but it was late enough in the day that I would have risked being out after dark. While driving home I had just enough time to stop at the coke ovens near Sunnyside before the sun set. I’ve known about the coke ovens for many years but had never stopped to look at them. There are hundreds of ovens once used for coking coal, covering about half a mile in two double-sided rows. It was difficult to imagine what the area would have looked like when the ovens were in use. It would have taken a lot of people to load and unload the coal and keep the ovens burning, but now things are desolate and crumbling.