Shay Canyon Petroglyphs

IMG_5400-EditUtah Scenic Highway 121 strikes off to the west just a few miles north of Monticello. This is the road along Indian Creek that would ordinarily have taken us to the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park, but thanks to the idiotic posturing going on in Congress we had turned left at the intersection for an entirely different reason.

Our Blanding hotelier for the evening prior, Craig Simpson, had told us about a little-visited petroglyph site not too far away from the famous Newspaper Rock. The site he described sounded pretty interesting, involving a short hike up a dry wash and then onto a ledge extending several hundred feet up a side canyon. Along the entire way, he told us, a series of petroglyph panels could be seen on the sandstone cliffs above the ledge.

Overpopulation, Newspaper Rock

Overpopulation, Newspaper Rock

We parked on the side of the road at the spot Craig had mapped out for us (there are no official markers or other indications of the presence of this site), and set off across the perennial stream and up the wash toward the cliffs, only a few hundred yards away.

Ledge view, Indian Creek

Ledge view, Indian Creek

To find the first panel one must amble a short way along the rough trail at the base of the cliffs to the west, facing Indian Creek. The remainder of the panels are back around the corner of the draw facing Shay Canyon, and are strung out one after another, just as Craig described, for a distance of about 100 yards up the canyon.

First panel in context, Shay Canyon site

First panel in context, Shay Canyon site

The panels show a range of animals (bighorn sheep, deer, dogs – even a burly bear), along with human figures and others that may or may not have been intended to convey spirit presences. Some are quite eerie, as these things tend to be given the fact that we know nothing about their artists or their intended subject matter.

Around the bend: 2nd panel

Around the bend: 2nd panel

Second panel in context

Second panel in context

These panels are notable for containing a large number of flute players of the Kokopelli ilk – with one rock face in particular showing no fewer than three flautists in one illustration.

Pied piper?

Pied piper?

Life: then and now

Life: then and now

Short story

Short story

Spirits in the stone

Spirits in the stone

The matador

The matador

False positive

False positive

Whispers of intent

Whispers of intent

The bear, which bears notable (accidental) resemblance to a hippo, which I'm pretty sure were not native to this region.

The bear, which bears notable (accidental) resemblance to a hippo, which I’m pretty sure were not native to this region.

Another flautist

Another flautist

Sheep hunt, with dog and extravagantly-armed figure

Sheep hunt, with dog and extravagantly-armed figure

Circuitous routes

Circuitous routes

Flute trio. I didn't see the third flautist until I began processing the images.

Flute trio. I didn’t see the third flautist until I began processing the images.

Antennae and wings

Antennae and wings

Solitary Man (ode to Neil Diamond)

Solitary Man (ode to Neil Diamond)

Anne tries her go at interpreting the figures

Anne tries her go at interpreting the figures

Direct hit

Direct hit

Lizard and glyphs

Lizard and glyphs

Art critic

Art critic

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Shay Canyon Petroglyphs

  1. Pingback: Canyonlands Overloooks, part 1: The Needles | Arthouse Photography

  2. Pingback: Rock art: Montezuma Canyon | Arthouse Photography

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: