December 1, 2010

Rock Art for the Ages

Nine Mile Creek begins as a trickle running off of the West Tavaputs Plateau and travels through a deep canyon to the Green River.  The canyon is known for its amazing quantity and variation of ancient Native American rock art. 
The group who lived here from 800 AD to about 1200 AD produced art that has elements of both Fremont and Anasazi styles.  They lived in pit houses on the valley floor, or sometimes in rock  dwellings on the cliffs, raised corn and squash, and hunted for deer, elk, and bighorn sheep.  This petroglyph shows hunters with bows and arrows, and perhaps tells the story of a hunt:
One of my favorite sites, known as the Sandhill Crane panel, shows a pair of water birds at the top:
We toured the section of Nine Mile beginning at the junction with Gate Canyon and going toward Argyle Canyon.  In 3 hours of scouting with binoculars, climbing the cliffy hillsides for better views,  and taking photos of the numerous petroglyphs and occasional pictographs on many rock panels, we only managed to cover 3.5 miles. 
Do you see a Mardi Gras mask here?
The tree-like figure above is thought to represent a corn plant.
This guy has seriously cool headgear:
Were the ancients into matrix math?
This elk has quite a rack:
I like the sunburst:
Did space aliens visit this culture?
Paradoxically, Nine Mile Canyon twists and turns for more than 50 miles on its way to the Green River.  The name Nine Mile seems to have come from the John Wesley Powell Expeditions, 1868-1871, possibly given to the canyon because of the 9 miles between it and Desolation Canyon.  There are other theories on the name, but none that make as much sense.
Nine Mile Canyon can be reached via the Nine Mile Canyon road from Wellington, Utah, or via the Wells Draw Road from Duchesne, Utah. 


  1. Janie....that is so cool that you got to see that upclose and in person...and so sweet that you share that with all of us...

  2. So interesting and beautiful. Great shots!

  3. Hi Janie, Love the new blog look... The snowy background is awesome....

    That is truly awesome that you got to see that 'art'.... I would just stand there and try to envision people who did that all of those many many years ago.... WOW--incredible.


  4. These petroglyphs are a delightful sight for my eyes.. preserved for all mankind to see and decipher hopefully till the end of time.
    If only those walls could talk.. one can only ponder how close to the truth they has been translated.. hmm

    Thanks for the journey into the unknown for me, Janie.
    You and Steve have amazing tales to tell.

    Hugs and happy trails to you, Steve and your wonderful menagerie.

  5. The petroglyphs raise more questions than they answer and will keep scholars busy till the end of time.

  6. Nice pics. I have read about 9 mile Canyon and it is on my bucket list. I used to live in Price, UT and we saw lots of cliff art elsewhere but never in 9 mile canyon. Wasn't it a private ranch until sometime when the public got access to it.

  7. Even the ancient ones wanted to brag about their elk hunt. Looks like they may have been as bad about exaggerating the size of the rack. Excellent rock art. Maybe it's good we don't know what it all means. A mystery is more interesting.

    I saw some of that beautiful work down in Robber's Roost. I hope Nine Mile Canyon has some kind of protection from vandalism. May its remoteness is the best preservation.

  8. Janie, this is STUNNING. I enjoyed this post immensely. It reminds me of our bushman paintings here in South Africa. These people also lived in the caves which they decorated and where they depicted life as they experienced it. Thanks for your visits to my blog. I love having you to visit. Have a great weekend. Jo

  9. Wow... Such a nice encounter with past...Thanks for sharing the details about the historical artifact :)

  10. These are Awesome examples of rock markings by our people of the past. Some things we recognize and so many we just can't seem to figure out. Even the descendants can't say what some of this means.

    Looks like a great place to go whether 3.5 or 50 miles.

  11. What an interesting place to explore. I'm glad you brought us along as I am not adventurous enough to do it myself. Not with those drop-offs.

  12. great pictures Janie. Nine-Mile is a place you can wander in for many days. I always wondered why they called it Nine-Mile.

  13. To see this much history in person? priceless.
    Love all the drawings, thanks so much for sharing with us!!!

  14. Wonderful rock art! It's always exciting to see!

  15. These are so cool - awesome post!!

  16. This art is absolutely fantastic! Thanks for taking us with you on your hike.

  17. The elk looks like a combination of Stegosaurus and an elk. It must be amazing to see all of that rock art in person!

  18. Those petroglyphs look pretty well preserved. I like the Sandhill Cranes too. They are all so interesting, thanks for sharing.



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