“Halfway down the canyon toward the south, there is a very high cliff on which we saw crudely painted three shields or chimales and the blade of a lance. Farther down on the north side we saw another painting which crudely represented two men fighting. For this reason we called this valley Cañon Pintado,” wrote Fray Escalante on September 9, 1776. I read these words on an interpretive sign while walking a dusty trail to view some of these painted images. It’s thought that Father Dominguez and Father Escalante observed a variety of Native American pecked and painted rock art in this canyon as they traveled through the Douglas Creek Valley. This area is now a popular recreation site, where you can explore prehistoric and historic pictographs and petroglyphs.
This 16,000 acre area is listed as a National Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places as an important historic property in understanding our nation’s past. The rock art panels represent several time periods and cultures. There are panels that were created by the Fremont, dating between 800 to 1150 AD; these images include animals, anthropomorphic figures, and geometric symbols. The Ute created images like bear paws, horses, and hunting scenes between 1200-1881 AD. Historic rock art includes ranching symbols, buxom ladies, and horses. As always, when visiting archaeological sites, keep in mind that these places are incredibly fragile and need to be visited with respect.
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