Pictographs and Petroglyphs at Horseshoe Canyon in Canyonlands

Pictograph in Horseshoe Canyon at Canyonlands National Park

Horseshoe Canyon, located in the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park in Utah, holds some of the best examples of Barrier Canyon style petroglyphs and pictographs found anywhere.  This long hike in the remote section of Canyonlands is akin to walking through the Louvre for ancient Native American Indian art.

View of the Henry Mountains on the way to Canyonlands National Park

Getting to Horseshoe Canyon requires a long drive on a graded dirt road east from Utah Hwy 24 to the staging area on the western rim.   There is also a hiking trail that drops down into the east side of the canyon that is accessible from the Hans Flat Ranger Station inside the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park.  The hiking trail is clearly marked and has a decent amount of elevation drop as you make your way into the canyon floor.   Round trip the hike is about 7 miles and you should plan on a full day for the trip, bringing plenty of water.

Horseshoe Canyon inside the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park

Horseshoe Canyon itself is very cool with cottonwood trees and water occasionally running in the spring.  As you make your way through the canyon there are rock art panels throughout including High Gallery, Alcove Site, and the large Grand Gallery at the end of the trail that all contain amazing figures and scenes of ancient life.

Grand Gallery Pictographs inside Canyonlands National Park

Closeup of pictograph inside the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park

The quality of some of the petroglyphs and pictographs is absolutely stunning, with the above pictograph almost appearing as if it was painted on the rock yesterday.  The paint still has so much detail you can just about make out the finger prints from the ancient hands that created these drawings 1000 years ago.

As you explore the canyon many of the larger panels are well marked with informative placards, however there are many smaller panels and other petroglyphs and pictographs scattered throughout the canyon that are not marked.

This is a very cool area, tucked into one of the most remote corners of Canyonlands National Park.  It offers a unique glimpse  into the ancient nomadic cultures that created the mystic petroglyphs and pictographs.

See the NPS site for more information on the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park

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Happy trails….


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