Rock art: Montezuma Canyon

Enigmatic scrawls

Enigmatic scrawls

Thanks to knowledge and directions gleaned from Craig Simpson, our more than accommodating host at the Stone Lizard Motel in Blanding, Anne and I embarked on a road trip to the east of town to locate a series of petroglyph sites on the walls of Montezuma Canyon.

Having benefitted from Craig’s expertise on a previous visit and recognizing him as a trusted source, we confidently diverged from the main highway and took off in a generally easterly direction on Around the World Road (CR 206, well-maintained dirt). Some 40 miles later we found ourselves at the first of the numerous localities Craig had pointed us toward, just around the bend after entering Montezuma Canyon.

Mountain sheep

Mountain sheep

We had only one concern on this day that we’d planned to spend almost entirely examining petroglyphs and ruins, and that was the 40% chance of rain in the forecast. We did not by any means want to find ourselves on the farther side of one of the several low water crossings along the route when a thunderstorm hit. While it certainly wouldn’t have been a life-threatening event (I always carry reserve food and water on these outings), we both much prefer the experience of sleeping on an actual bed to roughing it in the back of the SUV – which we would be forced to do if an episode of flooding rain cut off our return route.

Barbed wire and ancient art

Barbed wire and ancient art

Long story short: we made it to the first two of the half-dozen sites Craig had directed us to before a particularly nasty bank of storm clouds began encroaching on our little expedition from the northwest. What you see here are images of the petroglyphs encountered in about the first 5-ish miles of the lower part of the Montezuma Creek road.

Targethead

Targethead

I should mention that all the petroglyphs seen here are easily accessed from the county road, requiring only a short walk and a shorter uphill scramble on the scree beneath the vertical cliff faces. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look – and I must say it helps enormously to have annotated Google Earth printouts supplied by someone who’s been there already.

Canyon or valley?

Canyon or valley?

These panels are all on BLM land and there’s no restriction to access, so personal ethics come into play. Destruction of art that’s hundreds of years old—or the defacing of nearby surfaces with modern graffiti—is certainly possible; It’s simply unconscionable. It is probably also (I sincerely hope) bad karma.

Roper

Roper

Elk, perhaps

Elk, perhaps

Delicate bird figures

Delicate bird figures

Crawly things

Crawly things

Per a FB correspondent, this may represent a calendar.

Per a FB correspondent, this may represent a calendar.

A boy and his dog?

A boy and his dog?

Ghostly figures

Ghostly figures

Depictions such as this are obviously more contemporary than the presumed pre-Columbian glyphs that predominate here. These are likely either Navajo or Ute in origin.

Depictions such as this are obviously more contemporary than the presumed pre-Columbian glyphs that predominate here. These are likely either Navajo or Ute in origin.

Marvelous horse figure

Marvelous horse figure

Bison and etc.

Bison and etc.

A remarkable panel to close our display.

A remarkable panel to close our display.

We spent the rest of this day tracking southward towards Bluff and an entirely different adventure (details to follow).

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6 thoughts on “Rock art: Montezuma Canyon

  1. Pingback: In praise of place: Comb Ridge, Butler Wash & Wolfman Panel | Arthouse Photography

  2. Pingback: Montezuma Canyon Revisited | Arthouse Photography

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