Category Archives: Robber’s Roost

The Good Gallery

After having spent the previous day hiking around the Robber’s Roost and Lost Park areas, I woke up early and hiked into Horseshoe Canyon to search for a rock art panel that I’d read about. Ned Chaffin, an early cattle rancher in the area, mentioned the panel, along with a rough location, in a 1999 interview with the National Park Service. I had looked for this panel a couple of times before based on Ned’s vague description, including one grueling 14-mile hike last year, but came up empty each time. This time I felt like I had a pretty good chance of finding it because I’d ruled out most of the other possible locations. I began my hike as soon as it was light enough to see without a headlamp. At first I followed an old, closed road which had relatively recent tire tracks on it. It seems that the BLM’s effort in placing dead trees and branches across the road for many miles is ineffective–go figure. It was quite cold and frost covered the ground and trees, but I warmed up nicely after a short while of hiking. The sun inched above the horizon and gave the trees and grasses an orange glow as I hiked along the old two-track road.

Glowing sky behind the La Sals just before 7AM
Glowing sky behind the La Sals just before 7AM

My Jeep and the Henrys at the beginning of the hike
My Jeep and the Henrys at the beginning of the hike

Somewhat recent tire tracks on the closed road
Somewhat recent tire tracks on the closed road

Mr. Shadow’s cousin, whose name is also Mr. Shadow!
Mr. Shadow's cousin, whose name is also Mr. Shadow!

The sun peeking over the horizon
The sun peeking over the horizon

Red Nubs in the distance
Red Nubs in the distance

Frost on a dead tree
Frost on a dead tree

Old two-track
Old two-track

The La Sals over Horseshoe Canyon
The La Sals over Horseshoe Canyon

An old cowboy’s rainy day firewood pile
An old cowboy's rainy day firewood pile

A cow that kept a close eye on me
A cow that kept a close eye on me

I reached the drop-off point where I had to begin the descent into Horseshoe Canyon. I stashed a Powerade in a small juniper tree there to enjoy on the way out. While beginning the descent I spotted a small movement below me, and through my binoculars I recognized it as a porcupine. It was moving away from me and I snapped a crappy photo of it, but never saw it again when I neared the spot where I’d seen it. I reached the bottom of a small side canyon that I had to cross, and it contained many small alcoves. I climbed up into one promising alcove but didn’t find anything at all inside. I skipped several others because I was saving my energy for the hike ahead of me. I hiked down the side canyon for a short distance before climbing over a sandstone ridge and descending toward Horseshoe Canyon.

Dropping below the rim
Dropping below the rim

Poor photo of a retreating porcupine
Poor photo of a retreating porcupine

Alcoves
Alcoves

An alcove that I checked out but found nothing inside
An alcove that I checked out but found nothing inside

Orange alcove ceiling
Orange alcove ceiling

Another alcove that I didn’t check out (but regret not doing so)
Another alcove that I didn't check out (but regret not doing so)

Melted frost on oak brush leaves
Melted frost on oak brush leaves

Water pool
Water pool

Steep slickrock climb
Steep slickrock climb

Navajo Sandstone layers
Navajo Sandstone layers

Above Horseshoe Canyon
Above Horseshoe Canyon

Looking back along my route
Looking back along my route

Following a burro trail
Following a burro trail

The walls of Horseshoe Canyon
The walls of Horseshoe Canyon

Once I got into the bottom of Horseshoe Canyon, I hiked upstream toward what I hoped was my target rock art panel. Along the way I spotted some very faded pictographs through my binoculars. I’d checked those same cliffs once a few minutes earlier and didn’t see anything, but when some clouds covered the sun I checked again and saw the rock art. I reluctantly (because I didn’t know how long this hike would turn out to be) climbed up to get a closer look, but the climb wasn’t much of a bother. The panel must have been quite nice at one time, but there was very little left to see. In another couple hundred years there may be nothing left at all.

Water in Horseshoe Canyon
Water in Horseshoe Canyon

Site of some faded pictographs
Site of some faded pictographs

Several pictograph figures
Several pictograph figures

Several pictograph figures (DStretch enhanced)
Several pictograph figures (DStretch enhanced)

Climbing up to the faded pictos
Climbing up to the faded pictos

Faint pictograph with abraded diagonal lines
Faint pictograph with abraded diagonal lines

Faint pictograph with abraded diagonal lines (DStretch enhanced)
Faint pictograph with abraded diagonal lines (DStretch enhanced)

Close-up of the best faded pictos
Close-up of the best faded pictos

Close-up of the best faded pictos (DStretch enhanced)
Close-up of the best faded pictos (DStretch enhanced)

I continued up the canyon, rounded a corner, and saw a great (okay, maybe just good) pictograph panel looking back at me. It was very reminiscent of the Great Gallery much farther down Horseshoe Canyon, but certainly not as good in terms of quality and preservation. This must be the panel I was looking for! I climbed up to the rock art and realized that I’d actually seen a photo of it online before. From a distance it appeared to be several large, somewhat faded pictographs. Up close, however, there was a lot of detail and nuance to the panel. There were many petroglyphs and incised glyphs that weren’t obvious from afar, and many of the pictographs were painted directly over the top of petroglyphs (probably contemporaneously by the same artist). Some of the petroglyphs were even similar to pictographs at the Great Gallery, depicting large human-like figures with animal figures drawn within them.

The Good Gallery
The Good Gallery

Petroglyphs and a ghostly-white pictograph
Petroglyphs and a ghostly-white pictograph

Petroglyphs and a ghostly-white pictograph (DStretch enhanced)
Petroglyphs and a ghostly-white pictograph (DStretch enhanced)

Abrasions over pictographs over petroglyphs
Abrasions over pictographs over petroglyphs

Weathered panel
Weathered panel

Suspiciously modern-looking pictographs
Suspiciously modern-looking pictographs

Two huge pictograph figures
Two huge pictograph figures

Two huge pictograph figures (DStretch enhanced)
Two huge pictograph figures (DStretch enhanced)

Two large figures, one with rain above it
Two large figures, one with rain above it

Two large figures, one with rain above it (DStretch enhanced)
Two large figures, one with rain above it (DStretch enhanced)

Several human-like figures and a bighorn sheep
Several human-like figures and a bighorn sheep

More pictographs painted over petroglyphs
More pictographs painted over petroglyphs

Large pecked bighorn sheep
Large pecked bighorn sheep

Two (or three?) petroglyph figures
Two (or three?) petroglyph figures

Petroglyphs
Petroglyphs

Barrier Canyon Style petroglyph reminiscent of the Great Gallery
Barrier Canyon Style petroglyph reminiscent of the Great Gallery

SH brand
SH brand

T brand
T brand

The Good Gallery
The Good Gallery

After thoroughly photographing the site, I headed back down-canyon to find a lunch spot. I ate some salty snacks and then began the hike out. Along the way I found a mano that couldn’t possible have been used anywhere near the spot where it lay, so I assumed that my route was also used by the Native Americans and it was simply dropped there. I had slid down several steep slickrock spots on the way in, and climbing back up them was a little challenging. I reached the canyon rim and retrieved my Powerade, which was still plenty cold. The last few miles back to the Jeep were easy, but I was tired. I got back to my vehicle feeling pretty good, though. The hike had been about 12 miles total, and I was in good spirits for having reached my goal.

Small side canyon with a tree wedged between its walls
Small side canyon with a tree wedged between its walls

Mano in an unusual spot seen during the hike out
Mano in an unusual spot seen during the hike out

Steep slickrock climb out
Steep slickrock climb out

My footprints in the sand from earlier in the day
My footprints in the sand from earlier in the day

Four alcoves
Four alcoves

:-)~
:-)~

Leaving Horseshoe Canyon
Leaving Horseshoe Canyon

Powerade that I stashed at the top of the climb out
Powerade that I stashed at the top of the climb out

Evidence that the "two-track" was once a maintained road
Evidence that the "two-track" was once a maintained road

Welcome sighting of the Jeep on the way out
Welcome sighting of the Jeep on the way out


Photo Gallery: The Good Gallery