October 24, 2019
On the Thursday of our long weekend, Chris and I hiked from the Lower Sand Slide, crossed the Dirty Devil River, and did some exploring in Buck and Pasture canyons. We’d received a tip from a hiker earlier in the year about some rock art in Buck Canyon, so since we were relatively close we decided to check the area out. We didn’t get a very early start which turned out to be a good thing. I parked my Jeep at the top of the Lower Sand Slide and we hiked down a sandy trail to the Dirty Devil River. After changing into water shoes we waded across the river, and the water was cold! If we’d have gotten an earlier start it would have been unbearable.
We changed back into hiking shoes and started up Buck Canyon. Almost immediately we spotted some petroglyphs. The first panel was pretty visible, but farther along the cliff face were more faint petroglyphs. We both made a difficult climb up onto a ledge to get a closer look and I noticed there were some very faded pictographs as well. On the narrow ledge we were too close to the cliff to make out any details, so we slid back down off the ledge which left my legs shaking from the exposure. From below I still couldn’t make out much detail in the pictographs, so I took several photos almost blindly hoping to frame them fairly well. It wasn’t until I started writing this trip report that I used DStretch to process the photos and realized that at one time there had been some pretty good pictographs here!
Chris and I bushwhacked our way farther up Buck Canyon. We didn’t go terribly far and didn’t see much except an inaccessible alcove. I’d imagine in the not too distant past the alcove was easier to access, but a deep cut through some sandy alluvial fill made it impossible for us to access. We gave up there and decided to head to Pasture Canyon.
Between Buck and Pasture canyons is a smaller unnamed canyon, and near the mouth of that canyon we found some petroglyphs and inscriptions. Unlike Buck Canyon the hiking was easy with no brush and we hiked as far as we could until a large dryfall stopped us. There were some yellow cottonwood trees and a large shady alcove, and we stopped for lunch there. As Chris sometimes says, you’re not in the wilderness unless you find a mylar balloon, and that we did while we were stopped for lunch.
We continued on into Pasture Canyon. We didn’t find any rock art there, but there were several inscriptions and cowboy glyphs near the mouth. Pasture Canyon proved to be as much of a bushwhack as Buck had, and we didn’t make much progress up the canyon before calling it quits. We retreated back to where we’d left our water shoes and crossed the Dirty Devil again, then struggled back up the Lower Sand Slide.
I’d checked with a friend familiar with this area who told me there was a decent pictograph panel up either Buck or Pasture (he couldn’t remember which), but with the amount of bushwhacking in both canyons Chris and I didn’t feel like continuing very far. This trip seemed very worthwhile, though knowing we missed some rock art weighs heavily enough that a return trip might be in order.
Photo Gallery: Buck and Pasture Canyons