The state of Utah is named after the Native American Indian Tribe the Utes. No one knows exactly when the Ute Indians came into the area, but the earliest Native Americans came into the present-day United States along the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains.
By 1200 AD, there is evidence that the Ute culture had begun to dominate the mountainous areas throughout the region. The Grand River Utes, also called Parianuche, lived along the Colorado River in Utah, leaving evidence of their heritage around Moab. Since those ancient days, this area has become a web of sacred places, dwelling sites, and intriguing rock art messages.
Rock Art Tips
Prehistoric Native Americans made petroglyphs and pictographs. Petroglyphs are pecked into rocks. Pictographs are images painted on rock, usually with a crude stick brush or the fingers. The “paint” was minerals, blood, ash, charcoal, crushed plants or a mixture of these. The Moab area has many examples of Native American rock art. Please keep in mind that these ancient sites must be protected from any damage and appreciated for the prehistoric art they represent. Admire rock art from a distance and never touch it.
Just Two of the More Popular Sites
Wolfe Ranch in Arches National Park
Follow the signs to Wolfe Ranch and Delicate Arch. At the Wolfe Ranch parking lot, walk east 600ft on the established trail past the cabin and across the wash. The Ute hunting panel pictograph is on a trail that branches left off the Delicate Arch trail just past the bridged wash.
Utah Scenic Byway 279- The Potash Road
From US Hwy 191 take Utah Scenic Byway 279 south for five miles to an “Indian Writing” interpretive road sign. Twenty-five to thirty feet up the rock wall on the cliff side of the road you will see petroglyphs called the “paper doll cutouts” and horned anthropomorphs (stylized human figures in prehistoric art) holding shields, as well as a wide variety of other animal and abstract images. The panel extends 125ft along the road.
Continuing south 200 yards to another “Indian Writing” sign, you will see a large bear with a hunter at the bear’s nose and another over its back. At another interpretive pullout further down the byway is more rock art and dinosaur tracks. About 7.5 miles farther along Utah Hwy 279 is Jug Handle Arch (near the mouth of Long Canyon). Proceed to the Jug Handle parking area on a dirt road that goes east from the highway. The rock art is located above the parking area to the north.
Located about 12 miles west of US Hwy 191 on the paved road that leads to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. This is a famous panel of more than 350 distinct petroglyphs carved by the ancients more than 800 years ago. Figures riding horses and shooting arrows are considered a portrayal of the Ute Indians who obtained horses in the 1600s.
Note: Stop by the Moab Information Center for maps and more information.
Preserve the Past
Dinosaur tracks, stone artifacts, shards (broken pottery fragments), chipped stone, ancient ruins, intriguing rock art panels, and other cultural remains and evidence of human activity are fragile and non-renewable. Please help preserve what is fragile and precious. Leave things exactly as you found them.