There many ancient rock art sites throughout the San Rafael Swell, left by indigenous peoples of the area. Get a window into these cultures in a wilderness art museum. The rock art takes the form of pictographs and petroglyphs. Pictographs are painted onto the rock and petroglyphs are chiseled into the rock. Many of these rock art sites were left behind by the Barrier Canyon Culture and the Fremont Culture. Some of the panels depict ordinary things such as sheep while the meaning of others are still being debated. The San Rafael Swell offers an excellent opportunity to view ancient North American art in its original beautiful setting.
Rock Art Sites
Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel
The Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel is a great example of Barrier Canyon Culture pictographs. These pictographs are 2,000 years old. It also has a few petroglyphs from the Fremont Culture, dating back 1,000 years. There is a petroglyph of a sheep left by the Fremont Culture but the meaning of the pictographs are still debated. The Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel is alternately referred to as the Buckhorn Draw Pictograph Panel or the Buckhorn Draw Native American Rock Art Site. There is an interpretive area with restroom facilities. It is located north of I-70 in the Buckhorn Draw area, near the San Rafael Bridge Recreation Site and The Wedge Overlook. The drive goes through beautiful canyons and the site is right off the side of the road. You can check out the Map Page to see the location of the Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel.
Rochester Panel Rock Art Site
The Rochester Panel Rock Art Site has many petroglyphs from various points in history but most are probably from the Fremont Culture dating back 1,000 years. One of the best sites for ancient rock art in the San Rafael Swell. It is located close to Emery, Utah. From the parking lot, there is an approximately 1/2 mile trail leading to the site.
Other Pictographs and Petroglyphs in the San Rafael Swell
Head of Sinbad Pictograph
This is a seldom visited and well preserved pictograph site. It close to I-70 but a 4wd vehicle may be necessary. Dutchman's Arch and Swasey's cabin are also in the area.
Black Dragon Pictograph
A little west of Green River, Utah and close to I-70
Lone Warrior Rock Art Site
Other Pictographs and Petroglyphs near the San Rafael Swell
Nine Mile Canyon
Close to the San Rafael Swell, Nine Mile Canyon has been called "the world's longest art gallery".
There are thousands of examples of petroglyphs to view, largely produced by the Fremont Culture, and
additional later ones by the Ute people and European settlers. Archaeologists have identified other
structures in the area such as granaries. This is the largest concentration of rock art in the United
States. A great way to experience this area is a driving tour on the 78 mile Nine Mile Canyon Back
Country Byway. There are many places during this scenic drive to get out and see the rock art. The main
access route is 8 miles east of Price, Utah.
Horseshoe Canyon is an important rock art site which is part of the separated Horseshoe Canyon Unit of
Canyonlands National Park. The Great Gallery is the best known panel and is well preserved. Horseshoe
Canyon is usually accessed from the west off Highway 24. It is about 45 miles from Goblin Valley State Park but a few hours drive time on the dirt roads.
This site has rock art from various cultures. Fremont, Barrier Canyon and Ute are all represented.
There is also a ghost town nearby. A little east of Green River, Utah and close to I-70
There are few facilities and no water available
BLM - Price Field Office
125 S 600 W
Price, UT 84501
Things to Consider
This is an isolated area, bring everything you need or think you might need with you. Spring and Fall are good times to visit with more moderate temperatures. Seek shelter during thunderstorms, lightning and flooding dangers are high. Roads can sometimes be impassable after storms. Be sure to fill up your gas tank in Green River, Castle Dale or other town that is your starting point. Drink plenty of water.