Some Of The Best Petroglyphs In Moab
In the canyonlands of the red rock area in southern Utah is Moab, a traveler’s base for many extraordinary adventures in the territory. One reason to spend time in this unusual part of the country is to explore the great abundance of Moab petroglyph sites. The ancient rock artworks date from historical periods as early as 5500 BC. Here’s some general information about some of the most popular rock art sites in this part of Utah and where to find petroglyphs in Moab when you arrive in the wilderness vicinity of each one.
Potash Road Petroglyphs
The large area of cliff wall by the Colorado River along Potash Road displays the Potash Road Petroglyphs. The wide array of petroglyphs is up pretty high on the rock facing but very easy to see from below. Also, look at the sides of the cliff face and in the crevices where there are more to see in those too.
Location: (About 10 miles from Moab) Take US 191 north, to UT 279 south. Go 5.9 mi, to Poison Spider Mesa Jeep
Trail/Poison Spider Safari Rte. The rock art is to the right just past the Wall Street climbing area.
Time: For this site, allow an hour, or 2-3 hours if you want to see nearby sites too.
Trail Length: You can view these spectacular, vivid petroglyphs from your car.
Moonflower Canyon Petroglyphs
These petroglyphs are well worth the effort to stop by and see, and they’re convenient to reach as you’re on your way from Moab to visit Birthing Rock. The Moonflower Canyon Petroglyphs are on a small area of the cliff wall right beside the road, so you don’t need to hike into the canyon to see them.
Location: (About 3.3 miles from Moab) Take N 100 W to Williams Way to S 500 W left about 0.4 mi. Turn right on Kane Creek Blvd. The petroglyphs are on the left, beside the Moonflower Canyon campgrounds.
Time: Plan for an hour, or a bit longer if you want to hike a little into the Canyon too.
Trail Length: No hiking is necessary. The rock art is by the parking lot for entering the canyon.
Birthing Rock Petroglyphs
The Birthing Rock panel is on a massive boulder beside Kane Creek Boulevard. It depicts a woman giving birth to a huge baby, possibly with a doctor in attendance. It’s flanked by other petroglyphs. It’s one of Moab’s most unique ancient rock artworks.
Location: (About 6.3 miles from Moab) Take Kane Creek Blvd. When it veers right, it becomes Kane Spgs Rd. After crossing the cattle guard, go 1.4 miles on the gravel road to the pull-out on the west side, and walk about 75 feet west downhill to the big boulder with the rock art.
Time: Driving is slow going, so about 1.5 to 2 hours to include other stops.
Trail Length: Under a half a mile round trip, easy walk from parking to the boulder.
Golf Course Petroglyphs (Moab Man)
The Golf Course Petroglyphs feature Moab Man, a triangular-shaped figure with stunning earrings. There are similar figures of varying sizes and other figures. These are behind a fence, but this convenient site offers Moab’s most accessible petroglyphs.
Location: (About 5.9 miles from Moab) Take US 191 south. Go left on E Spanish Trail Rd to Westwater Dr. Go about a mile. Pass through the residential area outside the golf course. The petroglyphs are on the left.
Time: Probably best to allow at least 30 to 45 minutes, including driving time.
Trail Length: There’s no hiking involved. Just park and walk a few feet to the fence for viewing.
Gold Bar Petroglyphs
Some of these fascinating images are nearly identical to those at the Indian Creek Recreation Area (35 miles away). Many are faded and it’s hard to see what they are. Plus, you need to look past the graffiti over some of the Gold Bar Petroglyphs to see the many very interesting rock artworks.
Location: (About 14 miles from Moab) Take US 191 north about 4.1 miles to UT 279 S. The petroglyphs are on the left near the Gold Bar Group Campground. They’re along the north side of the railroad tracks across just inside the entry to Dragonfly Canyon.
Time: Allow around 30 minutes for a short easy walk and time to view the rock art.
Trail Length: From the (unmarked) Gold Bar Trailhead it’s about 0.3 miles roundtrip.
Courthouse Wash Pictographs
This rock art features images of humans, shields, sheep, dogs, birds, and various abstract shapes painted or carved on the rock. See small petroglyphs carved into nearby boulders at the cliff bases. The large figures of the Courthouse Wash Petroglyphs are believed to have been painted by Archaic Indians, 5,000 – 750 B.C. This is an official national historical site.
Location: (About 3 miles from Moab) Take US 191 north to the gravel path of the Courthouse Wash Rock Art Trail, and walk east to the cliff bases. Look up to see the faint petroglyphs. (If you reach Courthouse Wash, you’ve gone too far.)
Time: Allow about one hour.
Trail Length: Walk uphill for a short distance of about 500 feet to the base of the cliffs.
Things to Keep In Mind When Visiting Rock Art & Ruins
Come to Moab! Enjoy the many fascinating petroglyphs and pictographs and the million exciting things to do near Moab! Of course, remember to be careful with these ancient cultural treasures:
- Don’t touch the petroglyphs or pictographs because fingers have natural oils that contribute to the degradation of rock art.
- If you find an artifact, don’t take it. Just leave it where it is and just take pictures of it.
- If there are rooms or other structures, don’t enter unless it’s posted that it’s allowed.
- Don’t write on, draw on, paint, or carve the rocks, of course.
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