Big Hole and Lost Spring Washes

This weekend I hit up a few less-visited sites in the northeastern San Rafael Swell. My primary objective was to visit some rock art in Big Hole Wash and Lost Spring Wash. While driving into the area, however, I made a couple of quick stops. The first was at Smith Pond to search for an inscription by John Martin. I’d previously found an inscription by him near Price, and somebody left a comment on that trip report mentioning another inscription at Smith Pond. I parked at the dam of the small cattle pond and started poking around for the inscription. I saw a couple of inscriptions on a cliff and, as I got very close to the cliff, I noticed it was covered in very faint petroglyphs. None of the inscriptions belonged to John Martin, so I kept looking. On the other side of the pond I found a boulder with John’s name carved into it, and it was a perfect match to the inscription near Price.

Devon Brady 1956
Devon Brady 1956

Smith Pond petroglyphs
Smith Pond petroglyphs

Human and small animal figure
Human and small animal figure

Deer petroglyph
Deer petroglyph

View from the cliffs above Smith Pond
View from the cliffs above Smith Pond

John Martin inscription
John Martin inscription

Cowboy
Cowboy

Next I briefly visited the site of what I believe was a CCC camp in the Chimney Rock vicinity. A friend had told me about it, though unfortunately I can’t find any records online regarding the camp. All that’s left are a few rock foundations that likely supported large tents, and one small concrete foundation.

CCC camp
CCC camp

Tent platform
Tent platform

Concrete foundation
Concrete foundation

I drove to the south and parked at Cement Crossing and hiked into Big Hole Wash to find some petroglyphs. I’d heard about the rock art many years ago but didn’t know its location. It didn’t seem like it would be very difficult to find, though. While walking up the wash I spotted a mano lying in the open. One likely section of cliffs featured only a small carved cross, but the next good section of cliffs had a dark patina with many petroglyphs that were also covered in patina. Other sections of the canyon walls were so badly weathered that neither the walls nor the petroglyphs had any patina on them. In both cases it was difficult to get good photographs of the rock art. An inscription there by Jake Nelson made in 1849 is perhaps the oldest in the San Rafael Swell. I took a slightly different route back down the canyon and found a broken metate and an old broken bottle.

Parking spot at Cement Crossing
Parking spot at Cement Crossing

Mano
Mano

Carved cross
Carved cross

Approaching the petroglyphs
Approaching the petroglyphs

Heavily patinated petroglyphs
Heavily patinated petroglyphs

Human figure with…uh…three legs
Human figure with...uh...three legs

Another heavily patinated panel
Another heavily patinated panel

Sheep petroglyphs of differing ages
Sheep petroglyphs of differing ages

Weird lines
Weird lines

Sheep and squiggles
Sheep and squiggles

Jake Nelson 1849
Jake Nelson 1849

Badly weathered petroglyphs
Badly weathered petroglyphs

Torrey and Boulder
Torrey and Boulder

Broken, pecked metate
Broken, pecked metate

Bottom of a glass bottle manufactured by William Franzen & Sons, 24 MIL (Milwaukee), 1920 or earlier
Bottom of a glass bottle manufactured by William Franzen & Sons, 24 MIL (Milwaukee), 1920 or earlier

After returning to the Jeep, I headed over to Lost Spring Wash. The hiking route into the wash had a lot of stickery weeds that gave Torrey and Boulder a lot of problems. I had to stop several times to pick stickers out of their paws. I was looking for some rock art whose location I had only a rough description of, but that proved to be enough to locate it. Just as I found the rock art I noticed some dirt bikers taking a rest nearby, and I ended up having an audience while I walked along the cliff photographing petroglyphs and pictographs. There were faint petroglyphs depicting bighorn sheep and other animals, and under a shallow overhang were many pictograph lines that I wasn’t expecting.

Following a faint ATV track
Following a faint ATV track

Faint bighorn sheep petroglyph
Faint bighorn sheep petroglyph

More faint petroglyphs
More faint petroglyphs

Shallow overhang containing pictographs
Shallow overhang containing pictographs

Crude rock structure
Crude rock structure

Reddish-orange pictograph lines
Reddish-orange pictograph lines

Long line of red and white pictograph lines
Long line of red and white pictograph lines

A single darker red line among reddish-orange lines
A single darker red line among reddish-orange lines

The hike back to the Jeep was rough on the dogs–the stickers were really annoying them both, but Torrey was having an especially difficult time. I considered trying to carry them, or tying them up to a bush and attempting to drive the Jeep cross-country to retrieve them, but ultimately I decided it was best to just continue on. We weaved around trying to avoid the worst of the stickers for over a mile. Finally, back at the Jeep, I cleaned their paws of any remaining stickers, we all had a big drink of water, and then cruised on toward home.

Stickery weeds
Stickery weeds


Photo Gallery: Big Hole and Lost Spring Washes