Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Nine Mile Canyon Rock Art, Utah

Nine Mile Canyon is actually about 40 miles long, and was probably named after a nine mile transect used by a cartographer on the John Wesley Powell expedition of 1869.  It has been called the longest art gallery in the world, thanks to the thousands of petroglyphs and pictographs along the canyon walls.
I visited the site with Bruce Gregory and Stephen Johnson during our 33rd consecutive year of camping.

Petroglyphs in the Daddy Canyon Complex

The rock art was created by Fremont people as far back as 950 AD, and by the Utes starting in the 16th century.

Many of the images have unclear meanings, such as this anthropomorph with curving feet and mysterious circles.

The rock art of Nine Mile Canyon has been endangered by industrial truck traffic from oil and gas exploration over the last several years.  The rock art was coated by dust from the dirt road through the canyon, which has been paved recently to reduce the damage.

Archer and bighorn sheep petroglyph coated by dust.

Rasmussen Cave is a wonderful location with beautiful pictographs of elk, sheep, and other animals, as well as many petroglyphs, but it has been badly vandalized.

Probably the most famous rock art group in the area is the famous Great Hunt petroglyph panel.  It is located in a spur called Cottonwood Canyon, and the dirt road used to pass by just a few feet away, causing a lot of dust damage.  The road was re-routed away from the panel and paved, so now the hunting scene is accessed by a beautiful paved path.
There is a lot more to see in Nine Mile Canyon, including a ghost town, historic ranches, Fremont ruins, and beautiful canyon scenery.  Please visit my Flickr page to see more rock art and many of the other attractions.