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"Petroglyph Panel" Top 5 Page for this destination Petroglyphs Tip by goodfish


About a mile east of the visitor center on Hwy 24 (the main public road through the northern end of the park) is a rock panel of Fremont-era petroglyphs. These are much more visible and more numerous than the few on Capitol Gorge Trail, and it's an easy, shady walk along the panel on a flat, raised wooden bridge.

As I mention in my Capitol Gorge Trail review, the Fremont were a culture of indigenous hunter/gatherer/farmers who occupied parts of this region from 600-1300 AD. Petroglyphs (carved) and more rare pictographs (painted) are found all over the Southwest. You'll often see images like these referred to as 'rock art' but the people who painstakingly pecked them into the sandstone likely had little time for decorative leisure. Some archeologists think they were a form of worship while others believe they could be records of important historical or astronomical events. Or all of the above.

So while none of them really know for sure what the squiggles, geometrics, animals and otherworldly anthropomorphic (human) forms mean, they have a rough idea how old they are and which groups of people carved them by the age of other artifacts found nearby and specific attributes of the images themselves. For instance, bows and arrows first appeared in this region around 500 A.D, and horses after the Spanish brought them in the mid 1500's. Sometimes the age of the surface they've been etched into is a clue as older figures are darker than more recent additions. Later images are also sometimes superimposed over older ones.

Combine your walk here with a hike to Hickman Natural Bridge as the two parking areas are just 1/4 mile or so apart. A park pass is not needed to see the petroglyphs.

Address: Capitol Reef National Park, Torrey, Utah , Capitol Reef National Park
Directions: The parking area is on Hwy 24 east of the visitor center and old Fruita schoolhouse.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 15, 2016
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