October 5, 2009

Range Creek

In the remote Book Cliffs of north central Utah, the Wilcox family owned a ranch encompassing Range Creek for over 50 years.  Between the family assiduously keeping out trespassers and the difficult access, the area's Fremont Indian artifacts (some dating from 400A.D.) are preserved essentially intact.

A few years ago, when 70 + year old Waldo Wilcox was getting too old to ranch, he sold his land (4200 acres) to the nonprofit Trust for Public Lands, who transferred ownership to the BLM, who later sold it to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.  Through this complicated transfer into government ownership, archeologists had their first chance to explore the area.  They were salivating at the thought, I'm sure, and for good reason.  Numerous Native American burial sites, granaries, dwellings, and hundreds of pictographs and petroglyphs have been identified so far  Here is a closer view of the granary shown above:
We visited Range Creek in 2005, shortly after the first public access was allowed. Entry and exploration requires a permit.  The road to the area is unpaved, twisty, narrow, and washes out in big storms, so getting there still isn't easy.

From the gate where the general public must park, it's 20 miles to the old ranch house. A rutted dirt lane leading to the ranch covers the distance.  Archeologists, students, and special groups are allowed to drive in. We met a friendly archeologist in a Jeep who stopped to chat and pointed out some of the points of interest along the five miles we were able to explore. 

Our visit was in mid-September, and the fall colors were spectacular:

If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend visiting this area.  Plan to camp, because the nearest motel or anything resembling a town is several hours drive away.
To read an article about this area from Smithsonian.com about the colorful Waldo Wilcox and his beloved ranch and ancient ruins, click here.
For another article from NationalGeographic.com, click here.
For views into more strange and wonderful worlds, click here.

39 comments:

  1. Wow, I see a woman holding her hands out in the stone - top photo. Very neat!!

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  2. Fascinating - and what a service that family did for North American history. I think my favourite is the snazzy horse - although I don't know if it is a horse...

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  3. Beautiful Janie. I'd love to see those Indian artifacts. AND--the Fall colors are superb... Thanks!!!!

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  4. beautiful photos...what a interesting place to visit...

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  5. Wow. Wow. I always find history so utterly amazing. No wonder it was one of my favorite classes in school! I can just envision the Indians drawing on the stone. What a beautiful area to explore.

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  6. What an interesting place! I think I would have to spend years in Utah once I was there ;)
    Have a nice week!

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  7. I remember hearing about the Wilcox Ranch back in 2006 or so. I read part of the NatGeo article link and am glad there are archeologists protecting and studying the artifacts and the writings. Have hiked some of the slickrock near Hanksville. It is amazing country. Thanks for the reminder and the links.

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  8. Love how beautifully you've added to the historical documentation of this place with your photos! And you had the opportunity to do so at the perfect time of year.

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  9. How interesting! We had been planning to vacation in Utah this year, but it didn't work out. Hopefully we will be able to next year. I am continually amazed at all the beauty there! Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Very interesting. I remember reading about the Wilcox ranch. As a kid I lived in Price, UT which is near the ranch. Dad worked for the Forest Service and I remember on some of our family outings he would point out ruins. On our scouting hikes in the desert we found lots of arrowheads, some grinding stones and an occasional pot fragment and being the ignorant kids we were and the times being less sensitive than now, we picked them up and brought them home.

    Great pictures.

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  11. what an amazing post. and i clicked through and read the smithsonian article too. i was trained in anthropology/archaeology though i have not been active in any of it for years. this is definitely a place i'd love to visit and take in.
    thanks for sharing.

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  12. What a beautiful and interesting place. It is wonderful that it is being preserved for study and enjoyment.

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  13. Janie,
    Wonderful color ... the reds and oranges of the trees against the yellow and green Spectacular. Wonderful pictographs. Thanks for all the links. Traveling with you is fun! :D :D

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  14. Have I told you lately that I really enjoy your virtual tours of the state of Utah :) I loved this tour of range creek (since I live in that town that's the closest to it). You took some great shots of some of the points of interest.

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  15. the petroglyphs are amazing and you already have burst of fall colors, how nice and I'm envious btw.

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  16. WOW!!I love so much the last photo!!Beautiful coulours!!

    Kisses,

    Irina

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  17. Hi Janie,
    You've shown us a treasure. Luckily, it isn't easy to access, so it may remain pristine. The photos of your fall in Utah are breathtaking!

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  18. What an incredible place! Gorgeous colors, landscape! Doesn't get any better than this, Janie! And your photos are marvelous!

    Have a great week!

    Sylvia

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  19. WOW!!! How impressive! Your photos are so beautiful! Thanks for stopping by The Motivation Station to check it out too :-)

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  20. Janie: What a super neat place to visit and gather all these great photos. Thanks for sharing with MWT.

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  21. What a magnificent gift and a wonderful way to preserve this treasure trove of history and artifacts...

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  22. I'd love to visit there sometime. Fascinating place and I enjoyed the narrative and photographs so much.

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  23. It does look like an intersting place, a place I would like to see in person. Your photos are great, thanks for sharing.

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  24. What a wild and beautiful place. I had not heard about the Wilcox ranch and the native American ruins. Thank you for posting this!

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  25. I also love the Indian artifacts...but all the pictures are lovely. It is nice to see into the window of your world. cheers.

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  26. Oh Janie, this is wonderful. I'll bet archeologists were excited to survey and document these sites. That rock art is so vivid. With limited access these treasures should stay well preserved. How lucky you were to see this. Plus the fall colors. Excellent captures.

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  27. A wonderful place indeed! The very rocks are formations of wandering Indians. I love the bear paw and the fall colours and just everything about the place.
    Thanks for taking us along.

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  28. Thanks for introducing this location for us. We must appreciate how the Wilcox family preserved the place then give it to the public.

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  29. Seems like such an odd place to have a granary! This is really an amazing place. Those petroglyphs are awesome. And I just love to see the progress of the colors of fall in your photos.

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  30. Beautiful place and love that very big bear paw.

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  31. Wow - what a wonderful remote place full of history!

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  32. Old and preserved by the beautiful nature of which you've shot some really awesome pictures. Love the colors!

    - Pixellicious Photos

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  33. Hi Janie

    it is amazing to think what treasures the land and earth hold relating to our past and heritage...just the other day that huge haul of early Anglo Saxon treasure was uncovered in the UK...

    it looks a great place to visit and feel the past...

    Happy days

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  34. Stunning! I'd love to visit one day!

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  35. It's amazing that this area is still pretty much as it was when Europeans arrived. It'll be interesting how much archeologists will learn from the site.

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  36. That's fascinating! I love hearing about remote places like this that are preserved.

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  37. It must have been fascinating to be among the first to see this area. It looks as if a trip there would be worthwhile simply for the scenery -- the Indian artifacts would be a great bonus.

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  38. I appreciate the virtual tour of your world and the history lesson too. Thanks for sharing ;--)
    Hugs and blessings,

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