McKee Springs Petroglyphs

August 26, 2014 at 9:28 am (Colorado, Dinosaur National Monument, fine art photography, National Parks, Photography) (, , , , )

McKee Springs - the most famous panel in Dinosaur National Monument

McKee Springs – the most famous panel in Dinosaur National Monument

After three months of looking at the replica of this famous Fremont culture petroglyph panel in the visitor center, I finally got to see it in person.  We can only make educated guesses as to what these figures represent.  Someone told me that this largest figure is of a woman.  If the figures are solid in color, they are male. This one is “hollow” and the three stripes on the bottom of the torso supposedly represent the number of children she had.  I am not sure if this is true, but it’s the only story I have.  These figures are done in the Classic Vernal Style representing a culture that ranged widely in the Southwest 800 to 1000 years ago.  They are likely ancestors of today’s Utes and other modern Native tribes.


The spiral is a common object in petroglyphs, as well as in art of modern tribes.  It probably represents the life cycle, or the inner journey.  Round objects may also be shields.


This is a combination of petroglyphs (pecked or scratched into the rock) and pictographs (painted on the rock with natural dye such as ochre.)


The rock formations themselves are art objects, and this is a zoomed-out view of the previous panel.  Finding smaller petroglyphs can be challenging.


McKee Springs Petroglyphs are on the Rainbow Park-Island Park road to the north of Split Mountain on the Utah side of Dinosaur National Monument.


Coming from Maine, I can’t help but think these figures are carrying lobster buoys!


If the solid-vs-hollow indicators are true, there are two male and one female figure of the larger people.  We can tell that neck adornments were popular.

McKee-Springs-Petroglyphs,-DINO-UT-(1)-copyHeaddresses may be ceremonial, such as those worn by Hopis during ceremonies.  On the other hand, Hopi women were known for their traditional “butterfly” hairstyles, which is similar to what this female could be wearing.


Some petroglyphs are less refined than others.  Well, practice makes perfect!

Text and photographs copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share


Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

Gallery of Dinosaur National Monument Petroglyphs here.

Original hand-painted BW photographs for sale:  Etsy

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Contact:  cindy at


  1. wineandhistory said,

    Very neat – this is the first time I have heard the theory that the hollow figures are female. Something to think about for sure. You captured them well in your photos!

  2. Pam Leonard said,

    I love rock art, it’s hard to imagine the people who took the time to leave these images and the life they led. Even the land was probably different so long ago.

  3. Darla Rutherford said,

    Need some help. I need to release my husband’s ashes near what I think he called the fremont people? One of the rock pictures is the very first one at the top of this page. Does anyone have directions to it from the jensen entrance? Driving 12 hours for personal closure. And also, can I drive there during January. My email

  4. Phrygian Dieties in North America | Icliks Incoming said,

    […] following pictures, I am depending largely on the beautiful photos taken by Cindy McIntyre, since her blog post has a notice to feel free to repost or […]

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