February 2, 2009

Canyonlands Maze


The Maze in Canyonlands is difficult to access but well worth the trouble. When we visited several years ago, we drove about 60 miles east from Hwy 24. Then we turned onto the Flint Trail, a precarious dirt road, narrow, rocky, with many twists and turns, accented at the start by a couple of miles of breath-stopping drop offs. After that sketchy first section, which takes an hour to negotiate, we drove 15 more miles (3 hours) over rough terrain to the Maze overlook, the end of the road. At that point, we took off on foot, dropping into the Maze itself. (An aerial view shows this 30 square miles to carved into many canyons, looking just like a maze.) The hike down featured some sandstone ledges that are not for the faint of heart. But the area is infrequently traveled, so the isolation is splendid. And a hike of a few miles through twisting canyons will take you to some incredible rock art. (Click photo to see the full width of the panel.)
This is known as the Harvest Panel or the Bird Site, and features Barrier style rock art, which is the oldest found in the Colorado Plateau area. The people who created these panels pre-dated the Anasazi and Fremont cultures. The panels have been dated at somewhere between 2000 and 4000 years old.

The tallest figures are probably "spirit" representations. Note how the one at the right with hand extended has something coming from his hand. It appears to be a grain plant such as the native Indian rice grass we see in the area today. The animals seem drawn to him. Some of the smaller figures are bent over as if engaged in harvesting a crop.
We can't know for certain what is meant by any of the depictions, which is what makes rock art so fascinating.
This photo, taken of another section of the Harvest Scene, shows relative size and more interesting symbols.

Below is a photo of a small spring in Horse Canyon, a few miles south of the Harvest Panel, where we stopped for lunch and a rest in the shade. The pool of water appears dark but is actually crystal clear.
On the way home from the Maze, we stopped at Barrier Canyon (also called Horseshoe Canyon), a more accessible and more often visited area, where we saw more Barrier style rock art. This panel is called the Great Gallery:

Here is a closeup of some of the figures:
The figures below are referrered to as the Holy Ghost group. I think you'll see why.
Thanks for visiting. To see other worlds, click here.

43 comments:

  1. What amazing country and the pictographs are excellent. Another place to add to my growing SW list. Isn't this the maze that Abbey wrote about?

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  2. Very, very interesting. I'm going to have to visit this place in person!

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  3. wow fantastic that old WALL paintings or drawings , very interesting, they look Egyptian or Greek (from Greece)This tables are very very OLD, and are a story on its own, welldone:)

    MyWORLD in HOLLAND is cold with frozen canals and a windmill, or maybe do you like skating? Or watch my CROWM-story:) smile!

    I welcome you to visit my blog her:
    www.joannwalraven.blogspot.com

    JoAnn/HOLLAND

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  5. Wonderful post. How nice to be shown something not often seen.

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  6. Janie: What a precarious perch in a neat place. Thanks for sharing your world.

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  7. Yes, Gaelyn, I'm sure Edward Abbey wrote about the Maze. In particular, he described the difficulties of access (probably more difficult in the 60's)in great detail. This was definitely his part of the world.

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  8. This trip was a good time, I'm so glad I was able to see all of these cool panels first hand.

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  9. what a great post and photographs...enjoyed both.
    and a place i've not been to.

    have a wonderful week.

    erin

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  10. Your world is very interesting and beautiful. I wish to see all these someday.

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  11. What fabulous shots! Like you I'm very interested in history and this was such a great history lesson! And such a beautiful place!
    Thank you for sharing and thanks for stopping by my blog today! Have a great week!

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  12. Looks like a very special place. Is the area protected?

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  13. Wow, thanks for the tour, great pics and info.

    Cheers!
    Regina In Pictures

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  14. Gnometree: Yes, the area is part of Canyonlands National Park and is officially protected. However, it's best protection is probably the fact that the area is so isolated. Those who go to the trouble to hike in are not likely to deface what they find.

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  15. This is awesomely unique world, I'd be very happy if one day I'd be able to see those walls. Thanks for sharing it.

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  16. This is so interesting to see something like this from another era.

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  17. I'd love to visit there sometimes. The rock art is fascinating and such a beautiful area.

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  18. Your world is fascinating! Not to mention gorgeous! Love that shady spot you found over the ... pool? Puddle? Watering hole? whatever... it's beautiful.

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  19. Fun post. Didn't Edward Abbey write about The Maze. He's an author I read lots in my younger days, but somehow fell off my radar screen. The wall drawings raise more questions that answers ... and leave one wondering about those long ago cultures.

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  20. Cool. Looks like a fun day.

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  21. I would love to see these things in person. Your world seems to be calling me by name, urging me to cross the Hudson River, discover this place called West.

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  22. Great post. I love the ancient rock art. They are so mysterious.

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  23. I love ancient stuff like this, what a fascinating place!

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  24. That sounded just like one of Steve's favorite kind of hikes--going off a precipice? No problem! Great post full of good stuff.

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  25. Lovely historical pics.
    Wish you a great week, and peace, from India

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  26. I would love to see that place! Never mind the walking:) There are places in my country that have pictographs but I have yet to see some face to face. Interesting and beautiful post and pictures you got here:)

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  27. I love history, although I must confess that I LOVE your trails even more! Can't wait for spring to follow you on your adventures!
    Are the horses getting eager to go?

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  28. This is awesome,Janie! Wonderful how those ancient peoples all over the world expressed themselves in drawings and colours. As you saw from my blog I have seen a lot of Australian Aboriginal rock paintings. They are the same colours but the drawings themselves have different shapes.
    Thank you for sharing and showing.

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  29. Very extraordinary all these rock paintings. I guess it is good that they are not very accessible. It is awe inspiring when one thinks about the people whom have lived there and left their marks in such an incredible and beautiful way.

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  30. Janie! Amazing, fascinating paintings! I imagine that this place must have a special vibration. Thanks for the virtual tour!

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  31. Great blog post, and very interesting cultural experience

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  32. How amazing to have explored all this. I would have enjoyed the scenery, the tranquillity, the hike and the rock art but to enjoy them all at the same time...wow! Utah is definitely on my "to see" list.

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  33. When we were at Canyonlands in November my husband was unwell. We barely scratched the surface in seeing anything. I see that we need to return.

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  34. How very interesting! Great photos too.

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  35. Very cool post! I've never been to Canyonlands, but every summer we take a family vacation in one of the National Parks in the area, and we'll get there one of these days. I have a Convention in SLC every summer, so we just make a family vacation out of it. This summer it will be Bryce.

    I love to see all of your adventures. And I REALLY love the next post with the space blankets on the horses. (And I'm from your original backpacking area--the Ozarks, but you probably did Arkansas. I'm from the other side of the border.)

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  36. Well i know that i am going to put this on my travel list of places to see.

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  37. I don't recognize the panel with the two people below it for scale. Is that near the Great Gallery?

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  38. Wonderful photos! I haven't made it down to the Maze yet.

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