We visited just two of the many locations around Moab where you can find easy-to-access rock art. The first one is known as Newspaper Rock and is located on UT 211. We stopped to see it on our way to The Needles district in Canyonlands.
This is a petroglyph panel that was etched in sandstone by early humans (2,000 years ago) including Utes, Navajo, and even European Americans (early settlers). It is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Navajo called it "rock that tells a story," but archeologists have not interpreted the meaning. The first photo shows the entire rock face and subsequent photos are some close ups of the etched figures.
The second location is 5 miles west on UT 279 (left turn off of UT 191 north from Moab. The petroglphys are about 30' above the current road (previously, the cliff walls extended to the river and the petroglyphs could be reached on foot).
There are two general classifications of the petroglyphs we have seen here. The first is Archaic Rock Art (6,000-1,000 BC) that is characterized by zigzags, wavy lines, concentric circles, and abstract human and animal forms.
The second is Fremont Rock Art (450-1300 AD) that has trapezoid-shaped people and animals (bighorn sheep, deer, etc.), hunting scenes, and abstract figures. It is believed that there religious ceremonies were associated with the rock art and is considered sacred by Native Americans. This panel is approximately 125' long and contains rock art from both periods.
On the other side of the road is the Colorado River. We continued our auto tour on UT 279 to the Poison Spider Dinosaur Tracks (covered in the next post).
There are many more locations where you can see rock art, if interested. We always enjoy learning more about these ancient etchings and have seen similar ones in other parts of the southwest. Fascinating.
For online information about the rock art in the Moab area, see the Moab site.