Friday, August 16, 2013

Escalante Canyon Rock Art

The stretch of the Escalante River between the town of Escalante and the confluence with Death Hollow has at least 3 good rock art panels.  Two of these are petroglyph panels located on cliff faces at bends in the canyon and one is a pictograph panel in a large alcove.  All are on the north side of the river.  The map below shows their approximate location (the second red dot is a bit too far to the right).  All three panels show a heavy Fremont influence.

Approximate Location of the Three Panels

All three sites can be visited with a single half-day hike from Escalante.  Park at the trailhead beyond the cemetary and hike along the trail toward the rather obvious entrance to the canyon.  The round-trip hike is five and half to six miles.

Panel 1

The first panel is located about a mile and a quarter from the trailhead.  The easiest way to keep track, though, is to count bends in the river.  This one is located on a cliff face where the river bends to the right going downstream and heads south.  Look at the map above and you'll see it's the second such bend after the gauge station.
Panel is located at the bottom of this cliff, to the right.
The site has a couple of panels, the first has a snake figure and several typical Fremont bullseye shields.

Main Panel

Fremont Figure on the Main Panel
Smaller Panel Nearby
Look around behind the bushes nearby the crowd up against the cliff and you will find some other smaller panels.  I found one, there may be more.

Panel 2 

The second panel is more extensive than the first.  It is located another half mile downstream or one full loop of the canyon.  It is also on the north side of the bend in the river, in other words.

This panel has large figures of a sheep, a lizard, and a typical Fremont horned anthromorph.  Again, searching through the nearby brush should yield at least one more hidden figure.
Looking up from the Panel

Main Panel
Nearby Fremont Figure

Alcove Panel

The final panel is located in a huge alcove on the north side of a bend in the river.  This is two more full loops of the river downstream from the 2nd panel.  This looks like it would be an ideal place to build a permanent dwelling and there are cliff houses in the area.  However, a winter hike a few years back revealed that it is in full shade most of the winter and therefore very cold.

The rock art here is heavily damaged, probably by a combination of vandalism and flash flooding.  Also, unlike the two earlier panels it is painted and not pecked or carved from the rock.  There are four partial anthromorphs together in a group and several other solitary ones nearby that are not in as good a condition.  They all have the typical trapezoidal shape of Fremont figures, but the heads are eroded away so it's impossible to tell if they also had horns or not.

Pictographs are Located inside this Alcove

Photosynth of Alcove and Panel

Photobucket link

2008 Trip Report

© 2013  Kerk L. Phillips

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