The Utah Indian Artifacts Sites Section of the Canyonlands & Four Corners Travel Guide discusses
Ancestral Puebloan - Anasazi - relics found in Canyonlands National Park and the famous rock art found in Horseshoe Canyon, including the Great Gallery. The numerous sites found around Blanding, Utah, and the Trail of the Ancients are detailed, including the fine Edge of the Cedars State Park. Others areas described are Newspaper Rock historic Park, Hovenweep National Monument, and Grand Gulch Primitive Area.
This guide offers descriptions of many points of interest, links to many references, travel itineraries, and suggested visit times.
New Mexico |
Travel Itineraries - Trip Planners |
Guide to Southeast Utah Indian Artifacts Sites
This symbol indicates links into the American West Travelogue.
Utah Indian Artifacts Sites Below <Utah Scenic Points of Interest, Part1> <Part 2>
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Canyonlands National Park is dotted with small Ancestral Pueblo - Anasazi sites throughout the park which you will likely see during the course of your recreation at the park. Most commonly, these will be small structures such as granaries located in alcoves high on the walls of side canyons. The Roadside Ruin Nature Trail across from the Needles Visitor Center is an easy place to see ruins. Horse Canyon, a four wheel drive route, has ruins, as well as arches. For backpackers, upper Salt Creek Canyon has the famous rock art site called the All-American Man. More information on Canyonlands National Park
Horseshoe Canyon, Canyonlands National Park
Horseshoe Canyon is a detached unit of Canyonlands National Park, northwest of the Maze District. It is known for the proliferation of ancient Indian rock art on the canyon walls. Included is the world-famous Great Gallery, an enormous rock art panel with many life-sized figures. Some consider it the finest rock art panel in the world. The panel was created by the Archaic people who preceded the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi, Fremont) in the area, and is thought to be over 2,000 years old. Access to the Horseshoe Canyon trailhead requires driving many miles on a network of dirt roads originating off of Utah-24 near Goblin Valley. Standard 2WD vehicles can get through except during periods of bad weather. There is a primitive campground at the trailhead. The trail drops about 500 feet to the canyon bottom, and will be somewhat strenuous when leaving. Check with the NPS for ranger-guided tours.
Visit time: between the driving and hiking, about 2 days.
Newspaper Rock Historic Park, Utah
The park protects an enormous Ancestral Pueblo - Anasazi and Fremont people - petroglyph panel near the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. (Petroglyphs are rock art etched into the wall, while pictographs are composed of paint.) The panel includes a few modern etchings as well. Located on Utah-211, it is an easy stop en route to the Neddles District of Canyonlands National Park. This is an opportunity to see a great rock art panel without hiking or remote driving. The small campground across the road has been closed (per BLM). Visit time: an hour or less en route to the Needles.
Blanding, Utah (Area Attractions)
The town of Blanding has two excellent museums, and there are two ruin sites nearby which are of interest.
- Edge of the Cedars State Park is canyon country's most outstanding museum covering past and present cultures in the region. Its focus is on the Ancestral Pueblo - Anasazi - civilization. The state park includes a large, partially excavated pueblo. (Photo, left: note how the contemporary museum building blends with the excavated pueblo.) The museum has galleries of ancient artifacts, including a large collection of pots. There is also an ongoing presentation of temporary or visiting exhibits. Highly worthwhile. Visit time: an hour or more.
- The Dinosaur Museum. A very creative and interesting museum featuring dinosaur skeletons and sculptures, dinosaur tracks, a History Hall of Hollywood Dinosaur Movies, and other featured exhibits. Not related to Indian ruins but still very worthwhile. Visit time: an hour or more.
- Butler Wash Ruins is located about ten miles west of Blanding on Utah-95. It is a cliff dwelling on a high cliff side (photo, right). To reach the overlook requires a very scenic hike of about a mile over slickrock (photo, left). As you reach the top of a ridge, the Abajo Mountains come into view to the north. Visit time: a couple hours.
- Mule Canyon Ruins is about ten miles west of Butler Wash on Utah-95, right along the side of the road. It is a small excavated ruin with a parking area. A good place to stop for lunch. Visit time: an hour or less.
Grand Gulch Primitive Area
Grand Gulch is a beautiful sandstone canyon teeming with artifacts from the Ancestral Pueblo - Anasazi - people. Hiking the canyon is an excellent opportunity to view pueblo ruins, ancient rock art, and small artifacts such as pottery shards and corn cobs in a comletely natural and unsupervised setting, and enjoy a scenic canyon at the same time. The entire gulch meanders for 52 miles from Utah-261 near the ranger station before reaching the San Juan River. Few people backpack the entire length. One option is to place a second vehicle at Collins Wash, an exit point about 36 miles downstream. This allows a 3-4 day trip with no backtracking. Another is to enter via Kane Gulch, the main trailhead, hike to the junction with Grand Gulch, then return upstream the way you came. There are some points of interest (Turkey Pen Ruin, Stimper Arch) about a mile downstream from the junction. If you include these, the loop hike would be about 10 miles, a short backpack or a full day hike.
The BLM requires permits for both day use and overnight use. The permits are fee-based, and there are daily limits. There are numerous regulations because the area is so fragile. The most important rules are do not vandalize the sites and take nothing but pictures! Leave the artifacts for the next person to enjoy. Contact the BLM field office in Monticello (phone, 435-587-1510) to get a map with points of interest and for complete and current information on permits (policy on reservations or daily limits could change). Grand Gulch is one of canyon country's best opportunities to combine history and scenery. Hiking the canyon is moderately strenuous and requires a little route finding to know where you are. It is an extremely worthwhile trip for those who are able.
Hovenweep National Monument
Hovenweep National Monument protects six groups of highly unusual Ancestral Pueblo - Anasazi - tower-like ruins scattered along the Colorado / Utah border north of Four Corners. The remote and undeveloped nature of the area offers the visitor a unique experience and perhaps a perspective into the ancient world. Many miles from civilization, the monument lies in a vast area of scrubby, open mesas broken by occasional shallow canyons. The look and feel of this place has changed little over the centuries.
There are no services near the monument which has a nice campground. Access to the visitor center, campground, and the Square Tower Group (the principal attraction) is mostly paved. From Cortez, Colorado, take County Road G (the McElmo Canyon Road), and from White Mesa, Utah (just north of Bluff), take Highway 262. Watch closely for the turnoff signs to the monument. Visit time: one night at the campground, due to the remoteness. A real, off the beaten path place.
<Back to Interactive Map>
| <Top of Page>
Index to the Canyonlands & Four Corners Travel Guide
Travel Guides to Nearby Destinations