My annual southwestern Utah trip occurred just about as COVID was hitting the fan in early March, 2020. It was basically five days of rock art overload! Traci and I drove down on Tuesday afternoon after I got off work and we stayed at Paul and Pam’s place the rest of the week. On Wednesday Paul and I did several short hikes, visiting some rock art near Apple Valley and then checking out the ghost town of Grafton. The rock art was pretty good stuff, and there was a particular motif of human figures with two, three, and even four heads.
Thursday brought Paul and I to several petroglyph panels in and around Snow Canyon State Park. We only hiked about four miles total, but with temps in the 80s it wore both of us out. It didn’t help that I was having problems with one of my shoes that caused a great deal of pain in my foot, and I ended up throwing them away after this hike–I’ll never buy another pair of Merrell shoes again. With a lot of private property in the area, it took us a while to find a place to park where we could begin our hike. The first panel we visited was just inside the park, in a crack in the Navajo Sandstone. After the hike across open country, being inside the crack was cool and refreshing. The petroglyphs were mostly weathered and without much contrast between the surrounding rock, but still very interesting. We explored another similar crack in the area and did some sketchy climbing to get above a couple of boulders wedged in a dryfall, but didn’t find anything in there.
Next we checked out a large wall covered in petroglyphs. There were a lot of lines and squiggles there, but the most prevalent design seemed to be that of hand or paw prints. We passed below some multi-million dollar homes to reach one last petroglyph panel. It wasn’t nearly as great as the others we’d seen that day, but there was some nice shade to rest in before the hot hike back to my Jeep.
Chris arrived on Thursday evening, and on Friday we drove to Cave Valley in Zion National Park to look for some rock art. I thought I knew where the rock art was based on some photos I’d seen online, but luckily a local friend had seen some of my photos online from the previous two days and asked what my plans were for the rest of the week. When I told him, he responded with better directions. I’d been off by about four miles, so he likely saved us from a fruitless trip. Paul was still beat from the previous day so it was just Chris and me this time. We hiked to two different caves within close proximity to each other and saw some pretty good pictographs at both. The second cave had a ledge in the back covered in animal(?) bones, but surprisingly not a lot of rodent nesting material like I’d expect to see closer to home, so I can’t say for sure whether they were placed there by other animals. My friend referred to this as “Altar Cave,” and I can see why.
On Saturday morning there was a large gathering of geocachers at a buffet-style restaurant in St. George–the last time I would eat out in many months. After breakfast a large group of us set off for Rosy Canyon. We drove to the upper end of the canyon on the Utah side and looked at some petroglyphs in side canyons. The drive into the side canyons was very sandy and the clutch on Kenny’s lifted Subaru Baja started slipping and smoking. It took a train of two Jeeps to pull him back to the pavement. After letting the clutch cool off he was able to drive home uneventfully.
Next we returned south and visited four more rock art sites in the Arizona side of the canyon. Chris and I set off alone to hike to one of the panels which was nearly inaccessible, and I had to settle for zoomed-in photos from far below.
It was time to head home on Sunday, but not before one last rock art visit at Parowan Gap. For several of these annual trips I’d wanted to go there on the way home, but usually a late start or bad weather prevented it. This time we got an earlier start and I didn’t let the rain stop me this time. Chris and I just walked around the canyon with umbrellas and enjoyed the great rock art before parting ways and heading home.
Photo Gallery: SWUT 2020