Utah's Indian Tribes represent
the state's original inhabitants, and Utah continues to
hold sacred places, dwelling sites, and intriguing rock
art messages. Today's Utah has five major tribes with
strong cultural legacies which continue to flourish: Ute;
Navajo (Dine'); Paiute; Goshute;
Remnants of Ancient Tribal Cultures. Native
American rock art was created by two methods. Petroglyphs
were pecked or incised into stone walls or boulders. Pictographs
were painted on stone, and even after thousands of years,
can be quite colorful.
The exact meanings of pictographs
and petroglyphs are not known. Rock art "themes"
seem to vary widely, from depictions of successful hunts,
to mythic figures considered to represent deities, or
ceremonial practices. There are also scenes from domestic
life, common and fantastic animals, as well as many graphic
symbols. Rock art is often classified and assigned to
time frames and cultures based on elements of artistic
Habitation sites, or the
places where ancient cultures made their homes, can be
obvious - like granaries preserved because of their weather-proof
positions under cliffs - or obscure, as in a pattern of
grouped stones recognizable as a dwelling foundation only
by those with archaeological training. Across southern
Utah there are many sites where stone dwellings and places
of worship have been stabilized, preserved, and interpreted
for modern visitors.
The locations included here
represent merely a cross-section of accessible sites marked
by ancient Puebloan Cultures. Please remember, all Native
American relics are protected by federal law and touching
or taking them is prohibited.
Utah. Rock art created
by members of the Fremont
Culture is found on the islands of the Great
Salt Lake, and in some areas of northwestern Utah's deserts.
Indian State Park and Museum has
a large collection of Fremont Indian artifacts from nearby
Five Fingers Hill. Short, maintained trails lead past
several impressive panels of rock art figures. An interpretive
center focuses on the evolution of Fremont Indian Cultures
from 500 A.D. to 1300 AD
National Monument has many rock
art sites; some obvious, and some requiring maps and a
willingness to hike.
Canyon, on the lower west portion
of the Red Cloud Loop north of Vernal, has some of America's
most impressive petroglyph panels.
Canyon, a BLM National Scenic Backway,
should not be missed, but take the time to pick up a copy
of the detailed self-guided tour brochure available in
Price. About 20 miles south of Hwy 40 on a gravel road,
the canyon walls are covered with petroglyphs and pictographs,
if you know where to look.
Draw near Cedar Mountain in the
San Rafael Swell, about 20
miles east of Castle Dale on gravel roads, and Temple
Wash north of Goblin Valley State Park, offer scattered
but intriguing petroglyphs.
Utah. The ancient village
preserved at Anasazi State Park
and Museum in Boulder,
was one of the largest Anasazi communities west of the
Colorado River. The village remains largely unexcavated,
but many artifacts have been uncovered and are on display
in the museum. There is a life-size, six-room replica
of an Anasazi dwelling at the park, giving visitors an
idea of what life was like here nearly a thousand years
Gap, 10 miles northeast of Parowan, and Johnson
Canyon, 9 miles east of Kanab, have many petroglyph
sites. Pictographs may be seen at Sand
Springs, 20 miles northwest of Kanab.
Ranch in Arches
National Park is one of the finest examples of
rock art in the southwest.
Rock, is a panel of hundreds of
figures and designs incised on a southwest-facing cliff.
The stone "bulletin board" has over 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 1600's. Other images are attributed to the Ute culture
in the 19th century. This BLM-administered site is on
state route 211 accessible from US 191.
Edge of the
Cedars State Park and Museum in
Blanding interprets the remains
of an ancient Puebloan village with its ceremonial kivas
which were built between 700 and 1220 AD. The park site
is a strong testament to the Indian civilization that
once flourished in southeastern Utah. The ruin consists
of six distinct habitation and ceremonial complexes. The
museum houses a collection of artifacts and pottery, and
is the regional archaeological repository for southeastern
Also in Blanding, the Nations
of the Four Corners Cultural Center honors the
Ute, Navajo, Hispanic and Anglo cultures that coexist
in this part of the state.
Many remnants of the Pueblo
culture between 300 AD and 1300 AD may be seen on the
Trail of the Ancients, a
100-mile loop route southwest of Blanding.
South of the junction of
state routes 261 and 95 is the Grand
Gulch Primitive Area containing hundreds of cliff
dwellings. The BLM requires visitors to obtain a permit
before entering this rugged area which is accessible only
by horseback and hiking trails.
National Monument near the Colorado
border, presents a series of ancient fortress and tower
ruins. This small park affords solitude where the visitor
may ponder the past.
Five prehistoric rock art
panels are near the town of Bluff
and are shown on the Bluff walking tour map.
Monument Valley was set aside as a Navajo
Tribal Park. The Park Headquarters and Visitors
Center display Navajo archaeology, Navajo arts and crafts
and provide information on the area. A self-guided scenic
drive leads to overlooks of the park's most famous formations.
Further exploration in the Tribal Park requires hiring
a Navajo Guide at the visitor center.