Imagine driving through an art gallery that is miles, not blocks log. 46 miles to be exact, where drawings, paintings and carvings emerge as a panorama of visual delight. This ―World’s Longest Art Gallery‖ the crowning glory of rock art in southeastern Utah, is Nine Mile Canyon, a Bureau of Land Management Back Country Byway tucked between the curves of Dinosaur Diamond National Scenic Byway. Within this visual textbook of life within the many cultures who have occupied the area through the ages, most of the rock art panels were left behind by the Fremont culture, who lived in the canyon 1,000 years ago. In fact, there is speculation that the Great Hunt Panel illustrates a real battle. In total, there are 10,000 individual images within the canyon, spread out in over 1,000 archeological sites. Before you leave Wellington, be sure to make sure your gas tank is full, and you have brought along any snacks or beverages you want to enjoy. As you travel, leave no trace, never touch the art or add anything. Don’t disturb the rocks or rub chalk over any of the images. These are millenniums old irreplaceable cultural resources. If you would like to experience Nine Mile Canyon up close and personal, stay at Nine Mile Ranch, a loving restoration of the ancestral home owned by the owners grandparents. Enjoy your journey through this one of a kind art experience.
Amidst the astounding rock arches of Arches National Park, you’ll discover petroglyphs at Wolfe Ranch which depicts riders on horseback created in the period when horses were being introduced into America by the Spanish. The rock art at Courthouse Wash dates from the archaic Native Americans similar to the time period of the earliest art in Sego Canyon. Painted in the Barrier Canyon style, the rock art was later enhanced by later civilizations. One panel that was vandalized and restored revealed layer upon layer of pictographs painted over the millenniums. It must have been a way to update the news.
Best known for the grand landscape of the West protected and preserved here, the White Rocks Rock Art Site in Colorado National Monument is reached from the trailhead of Gold Star Canyon. It features petroglyphs carved into a variety of locations in the rugged rock landscape, most of which depict family life in the area. With its astounding scenery, Rim Rock Drive is worth the time on its own.
The most popular gateway to Dinosaur Diamond National Scenic Byway is the Flaming Gorge-Uintas National Scenic Byway, The Byway gets its name from the cliffs of blazing red rock of the Flaming Gorge, which loom about the Green River, Along the way expect to see wildlife surrounded by scenic beauty. 12 interpretive panels reveal the story of the Byway.
Even though Dinosaur National Monument is most famous for dinosaur remains, the monument is also filled with both petroglyphs and pictographs created by the Fremont people. The ―classic Vernal style‖ is characterized by humanlike figures, animal-like figures, and abstract designs. Science has not yet revealed why they were created. Most of the rock art locations are accessible from the Quarry Visitor Center entrance.
Thousands of years of history in Western Colorado is revealed at the Museum of the West, one of the magnificent collection of Western Colorado Museums. Study Fremont and Ute rock art, while placing it into the context of Colorado’s historical timeline.
The Fremont people lived in Sego Canyon between 600 A.D. and 1250 A.D. Yet, they are not the area’s earliest people. Rock art created by the Fremont culture peacefully coexists with rock art created in 7,000 B.C. and 2,000 B.C., when the area was occupied by the most ancient ancestral people that settled the area. Examples of art from the different periods are relatively accessible from the canyon entrance.
Hundreds of archeological sites from the Fremont culture appear in Canyon Pintado or ―Painted Canyon,‖ a 17 mile stretch of US Highway 139 managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Seven of the premier locations: Waving Hands Site, Kokopelli Site, White Birds Site, Cow Canyon Site, East Four Mile Draw, Hoodoo Site and Lookout Point, are available to view.
The Birthing Scene is a large boulder with rock art on all four sides, with figures and designs ranging from the formative to the historic Ute period. The birthing scene faces the road. The Kane Creek Boulevard Rock Art is located at the mouth of Moon Flower Canyon, on a rock cliff dating from the archaic to formative period of Native American settlements in the area. The Golf Course Rock Art Site is approximately 4 miles from the corner of Main and Center in downtown Moab. Designs appear in a panel nearly 90 feet wide and 30 feet high.
Experts at the Uintah County Heritage Museum believe that Native American rock are in the area is much more than random doodles. The images reflect aesthetic, magical, religious, historical, and astronomical elements as the artists attempted to explore their understanding of daily life and depict what they experienced. Visit here to learn more about the ancient rock art and the culture that surrounded it.