Popular Southern Utah Petroglyph and Pictograph Sites

Rock Art

Stories in Stone

Ancient Native American rock art sites of petroglyph and pictograph panels dot the southern Utah landscape. Our list is just a sampling, there are more rock art sites than we can possibly name. For this week’s Road Trip of the Week, we are highlighting a few that are easily accessible and ideal for family adventure.

First, here’s a basic rock art 101 explaining the difference between petroglyphs and pictographs.

Petroglyph – A petroglyph is a carving of an image in rock. Often created by pecking directly on the weathered surface of the rock using a stone chisel and a hammerstone. When the weathered surface, often desert varnish (or patina) of the rock was chipped off, the lighter rock underneath was exposed, creating the petroglyph.

Pictograph – A pictograph is a drawing or painting on the rock surface, which tend to be less durable than petroglyphs since they are more susceptible to weathering. The ones that survive are most often sheltered from the weather and sunlight in caves, rock alcoves, and areas with dry climates like Utah.

Be Respectful and Protectors of History and Public Land

We want to emphasize how important it is to treat these historic treasures with the utmost care and respect. Please do not touch them, even the slight amount of oil from your hands can cause damage. Modern graffiti has no historic value! These sites are protected by the federal Antiquities Act and The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979. Violations of these acts come with a hefty price. Teach your children while they’re young the importance of being good stewards of our land and historic sites. We’ve seen an increase in vandalism in the recent years due to the increase in visitation. We use this blog to help inform and educate. The cat is out of the bag about the parks and their popularity is growing faster than can be managed in some cases, which is why we all should take it upon ourselves to do our part in protecting these sites.

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