Cub Creek Petroglyphs

May 28, 2014 at 9:23 pm (Dinosaur National Monument, fine art photography, National Parks, Nature photography, Photography) (, , )


Dinosaur National Monument doesn’t just have dinosaur bones.  It also has petroglyphs made by the Fremont people, who were a different sort than the Ancestral Puebloans of Mesa Verde where I worked three summers ago.  This series is found along the Cub Creek Road on the Utah side of the monument.  All are easily visible from the road or a short walk.


The second and third images are from Swelter Shelter, so named by the folks tasked with excavating the site in the heat of the day.  No one really knows what the images mean.  Were they shamanic visions?  Journals of life passages?  An ancient “We were here” message?  Did they signify a good place to hunt bighorn sheep?  And why a lizard?  A spirit animal perhaps?





Generally the easel was a flat rock or cliff face, and often it had desert varnish – that black mineral coating on the rock face that lends itself to being etched, providing contrast for the rock art’s visibility.


Petroglyphs are pecked or chiseled into the rock with a sharp tool.  Pictographs on the other hand are painted, generally with a red ochre.


Though we may not know the intent of these figures, we do appreciate that they were done hundreds of years ago by the peoples who settled here and managed to survive in this arid land.   They are a testament to a culture that no longer exists, and whose descendants are likely the Utes who still live in the area.



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  1. Jet Eliot said,

    I love petroglyphs, and these are some great ones. I especially like that first photo, such a clear image.

  2. Kathy said,

    Actually, the 2nd picture looks like aliens. As Fox Mulder would say, “THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE”. 🙂

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