Nine Mile Canyon XVII: End of the Road

The week before Christmas I pointed my Jeep toward Nine Mile Canyon with the intention of driving to the end of the public road through the canyon, then backtracking and doing a few short hikes on the way out. While driving in I had to use 4WD between Soldier Creek Mine and Nine Mile Ranch. The snow plows hadn’t been out and the road was snowpacked with a light coating of fresh snow, and it was quite cold at one degree below zero. The snow completely disappeared as I descended the canyon. Before reaching the end of the road I needed to stop and stretch my legs and ended up finding some wonderful petroglyphs, including a unique Ute panel with a horse and rider with zig-zag lines attached to some bighorn sheep.

Negative one degree, and snowpacked roads
Negative one degree, and snowpacked roads

Parked in a side canyon
Parked in a side canyon

The remains of a granary
The remains of a granary

Interesting sheep petroglyphs with mouths open
Interesting sheep petroglyphs with mouths open

Bighorn and nice deer petroglyphs
Bighorn and nice deer petroglyphs

Ruins on a boulder on a butte
Ruins on a boulder on a butte

Faint pictograph(?)
Faint pictograph(?)

Glyphs on a leaning boulder
Glyphs on a leaning boulder

Wonderful Ute petroglyphs
Wonderful Ute petroglyphs

Back on the road I reached a gate which was heavily posted to scare the public away, even though the road through the property is a public right-of-way. Along the road I could see plenty of rock art which I photographed out the driver’s window. I arrived at a second gate, this one being the actual end of the public road. From there I drove a short distance up North Frank’s Canyon without seeing anything terribly interesting.

Scary signs on the public road
Scary signs on the public road

A nice Fremont panel
A nice Fremont panel

Roadside petroglyphs on private property
Roadside petroglyphs on private property

Roadside petroglyphs on private property
Roadside petroglyphs on private property

The real end of the public road at North Frank’s Canyon
The real end of the public road at North Frank's Canyon

North Frank’s Canyon
North Frank's Canyon

My next planned stop had me feeling a little nervous. The road barely crosses through the corner of a state trust land section, leaving a very short stretch (180′) of road where it’s legal to park and hike from without trespassing on private land. Although I knew I’d be legally okay to park there and hike around, there’s no way to predict what an adjacent landowner may try to claim. I parked and left the road on foot, negotiating some ups-and-downs in order to stay just inside the state land boundary. I had seen some pit houses nearby in Google Earth, but while hiking to those I spotted several others that weren’t so obvious. A large boulder had one side covered in deeply pecked petroglyphs. I reached the pit houses and found that they were nothing special–I didn’t even see any potsherds or lithics on the ground–but the cliffs above held a couple of very small intact granaries. The flat areas above the cliffs were surrounded by relatively intact walls of dry-stacked rocks. I didn’t take the time to get up-close to the granaries or walls. They’re on the short list for a future trip to the area, though.

Parked on a tiny corner of state trust land
Parked on a tiny corner of state trust land

Hiking a fenceline toward some buttes
Hiking a fenceline toward some buttes

Large boulder covered in petroglyphs
Large boulder covered in petroglyphs

Small granary tucked below a tiny natural arch
Small granary tucked below a tiny natural arch

Ruins atop a butte
Ruins atop a butte

Pit house walls
Ruins atop a butte

So, about a week before this trip I ran across this macabre photo by Chuck Zehnder on Panoramio. I was roughly aware of the location of the granaries pictured so I set out to locate them. I found the right spot, but accessing the ledge looked to be a bit tricky. I photographed the one granary that could be seen from below, and will return later to see the spot up close.

Granary on a ledge
Granary on a ledge

During the rest of the drive home I stopped in a couple of spots to get a closer look at some rock art I’d noticed on previous trips. I did a little hiking but mostly just viewed the sites from the road. I slammed on the brakes and backed up when I spotted a rock wall on a ledge above the road. How I missed this in the past is a wonder since I’ve driven past it dozens of times. There are other dugout structures with rock walls nearby and they all appear to be made by relatively modern settlers of the canyon.

Centipede with small human and canine figures
Centipede with small human and canine figures

Lone bighorn sheep petroglyph facing away from Nine Mile Canyon
Lone bighorn sheep petroglyph facing away from Nine Mile Canyon

Fremont figure and unfinished sheep
Fremont figure and unfinished sheep

Horned Fremont man
Horned Fremont man

Horned Fremont woman(?)
Horned Fremont woman(?)

Rock wall above the road
Rock wall above the road

The last site I stopped at was near a half-collapsed granary that was still marvelous despite the damage. A very busy petroglyph panel near the granary appeared to be impossible to climb up to. After looking around a bit I think I found a way up, but that will require returning with some “assistance.” ;)

Way cool horned snake
Way cool horned snake

White arc and hand print
White arc and hand print

High panel with some interesting elements
High panel with some interesting elements

Very busy panel up high
Very busy panel up high

Granary
Granary

Mopar pictograph
Mopar pictograph


Photo Gallery: Nine Mile Canyon XVII: End of the Road

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