This is a very interesting Fremont petroglyph panel hidden in the San Rafael Swell that many people drive by, but most don’t notice. The centerpiece of this panel appears to be a very life-like tree, which is something I don’t think I have come across anywhere else, yet. I really like how this photo shows the full petroglyph panel pecked into the patch of desert patina tucked up in a crack of the sandstone wall. What a truly fascinating setting!
The Silent Sentinel is a cool and interesting Fremont ‘shield’ figure located alone on a large boulder at the base of Cedar Mountain in the San Rafael Swell. Unfortunately, someone has recently decided to fire a shotgun at this figure, permanently scarring it. (The damage is not in the above photo.)
After hiking with my friend Kevin last Saturday to visit a couple of Barrier Canyon Style pictograph sites. We managed to find two of the sites we were looking for, but did not find the Ekker Site before Kevin had to go. Once he left to meet some other friends I hiked back up into the canyon in search of the Ekker Site. On my search, I managed to find another small site that I wasn’t aware of which was pretty cool. After photographing that small site I started hiking back to my Jeep, but taking a different way back. That turned out to be a good decision since I ended up hiking right by the Ekker Panel on the way. The imposing anthropomorph in the photo above was the largest figure at the site. I’m not sure how tall it was, but I know it was taller than I am! My best guess would probably say it’s about 8 feet? There were many other pictographs and petroglyphs at this impressive site, and I’m sure I’ll post more from here in the future.
After leaving the site I realized that Kevin and I had hiked to within about a tenth of a mile from here before turning back. If we had hiked just a little further, we probably would have found it. Had I known where to look when we turned around, I probably could have even spotted this large figure from there! On my way back to the Jeep I got rattled at by a rattlesnake; the first one I have ever encountered in the San Rafael Swell.
While out hiking in the San Rafael Swell yesterday we visited an interesting Barrier Canyon Style pictograph panel known as the Barnes Panel. Unfortunately, this panel has not held up to time and the elements very well and is very hard to see (especially in a photo). The above photo was enhanced using a program called DStretch. I have known about this program and it’s use to enhance faint rock art for a while but never took the time to play around with it. This is one of my first attempts with DStretch and it appears to have brought out quite a bit of the very faint detail in this panel. After the enhancement I converted the photo to black and white since DStretch changes the colors in the photo dramatically. In the enhanced image you can admire all of the fine details in this panel that are barely visible to the naked eye. Below is the image I ran through DStretch and pretty accurately represents what you can see in person.
Yesterday I met up with my friend Kevin so we could visit a few pictograph panels in the San Rafael Swell. I had searched for these same panels last month and not found them, but this time I found each site I was looking for, and more! The main site we both wanted to visit was the High Alcove Site which contains this very unique red-painted anthropomorph with scratched designs down it’s torso. This figure is located high on the canyon wall underneath a small arched alcove, which frames the site nicely.
I’ve visited the Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel many times over the years (including a stop there last Saturday), yet it never seems to get old. With this photo I tried to accentuate the ripples in the sandstone that lead up to the figures that are known as ‘Rain Angels’ according to the interpretative sign below them.
Here’s a closer look at the middle portion of the Unexpected Panel that Philippe and I stumbled across last month. There is a lot going on in this spectacular panel! At the bottom sits what appears to be a large rain cloud. Above that there are some figures that seem to be in a supplicant position. There is also an interesting vertical squiggly line with a circle on each side. That design is also repeated above the white rainbow. Above the supplicant figures is a row of circles, followed by a row of very small and fine lines and then a white rainbow outlined by thin ochre lines above it all. Then to top it all off, there are two larger anthropomorphic figures that seem to be floating above. This is a very detailed pictograph panel and I could just sit and stare at it all day 🙂
Two of the three figures that make up the Secret Site which I have also seen referred to as the Observer Panel. Hidden in a shallow alcove in the San Rafael Swell, these are an exceptional set of Barrier Canyon Style pictographs with the main larger anthropomorph styled in a simple rake-like motif which is believed to represent rain. The smaller stick figure helps reinforce the rain interperetation since it appears to be pouring water from its hands. There is one more anthropomorph that is off to the right and out of the frame in this photo that looks similar to the large rake-like figure, except a bit smaller.
Here’s a wide view that shows most of the pictographs that are part of the ‘Quail Panel’ I guess this panel was called that because the figures kind of look like quail? Whatever the reason for the name, I can tell you that this is a very cool panel of small pictographs. The figures here are approximately six inches in height. I don’t think I’ve seen a lineup of this many Fremont shield figures anywhere else before, and especially not painted in red and yellow. It’s interesting to note that each figure painted here appears to be different from all the others and that no two are exactly the same.
Here’s another of the rock art panels I visited this last Saturday in the San Rafael Swell, known as the Cowboy’s Secret. This is an amazing petroglyph panel hidden among many large boulders with a great view of the surrounding area. The main figure kind of reminds me of The Guardian figure painted in Canyon Pintado of Colorado which makes me believe that this could be of Fremont origin. The large snakes carved in the stone above frame this figure nicely.
Before heading home last night, I made one last stop at the Black Dragon pictographs since it has been a while since I was last there. Thanks to recent flash-flooding, the road through the canyon was rougher than I remember it. I wasn’t sure if the pictographs would be in the sun or the shade, but when I arrived I found that the panel was bathed in some nice late evening sunlight. I also found out just how well the alcove traps heat. The temperature outside was in the upper 90’s, and this alcove must have been at least 10-20 degrees hotter! I could really feel the heat coming off of the sandstone as I climbed up to this panel….I ended up not sticking around too long because of it. I’m guessing this would be a great place to warm up in the colder winter months.
These two figures are found to the right of the well known ‘black dragon’ pictograph. There is the interesting anthropomorphic figure on the left and the large creature on the right which looks like it may possibly represent a dog, which is common in the Barrier Canyon Style, but I’m not 100% sure on that so I’ll stick to just calling it a creature. What I like about this scene is the lines in the sandstone that seem to radiate towards these two figures. However, I don’t like that most of the pictographs in this area are outlined in chalk.
Yesterday I headed back to the San Rafael Swell in search of some more rock art. The upper ninety degree temperatures didn’t keep me away, but the high temperatures certainly made me keep my hikes short. Luckily the humid weather seems to have finally left the area and it was nice and dry out. Though, the gnats and mosquitoes seemed to be out in full force during this short hike in the morning. My first stop of the day brought me to the Broken-Hearted Man petroglyph. This square anthropomorph has the weeping eye motif normally associated with petroglyphs up around the Uinta Basin which is not very common in the Swell.
The name of this particular petroglyph seems to stem from a story of a nearby burial that was found containing a woman and child (possibly both lost during childbirth). It is thought that this petroglyph may have been carved by the father of the child. It’s an interesting story, but I wonder if the Fremont held the same concept of a ‘broken heart’ that we do? Either way, it’s definitely a cool petroglyph.
Here’s a very intriguing Barrier Canyon Style pictograph that Philippe and I accidentally discovered in the San Rafael Swell last month. This is just the very top portion of the panel I’ve called The Unexpected Panel and it is very well preserved…it’s also my favorite part of this entire panel! The ‘holes’ in this figures’ hands and feet remind me of the Skeleton Shaman located at the Head of Sinbad, though this one has much longer and curved fingers. It seems to be interacting somehow with the ‘flying circles’ which might represent birds? Below those ‘flying circles’ there also appears to be a dog-like zoomorph with some details painted in it’s body that are reminiscent of the Intestine Man near Moab.
A small Barrier Canyon Style pictograph panel in the San Rafael Swell viewed through a small arch in the sandstone. The day I visited this site (and a couple of others) it had been snowing on us all morning and never let up the whole day. Fortunately, this panel was well protected under a nice overhang so I could get this photo. Of course, the view through the arch required that I stand in the snow to see it, but it hardly mattered as I was already soaked from head to toe…..the things I do to see rock art!