Friday, June 13, 2008

Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs

Newspaper Rock is an easily accessible Petroglyph Panel along Utah Highway 211 on the way to The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah. It is a comfortable location and easy to view. The interpretive information at the site indicates that 2000 years of man's activities in the area are recorded here.

There are no methods of dating scratchings on the sandstone and there are no conclusions from scholars on what the drawings mean. I notice that there are several human figures with animal heads and many of the foot print drawings have six or more toes. The Navajo name for the site is "the rock that tells a story."

The 200 square foot rock panel is a part of the vertical Wingate sandstone cliffs that dominate the upper end of Indian Creek Canyon. This layer is below the Navajo and Entrada Sandstone layers that are seen near Arches National Park and above the Cedar Mesa Sandstone that forms the Needles in Canyonlands.

The setting for Newspaper Rock is along Indian Creek, a lush riparian habitat area fed by water flowing north from the Abajo Mountains. The area along the shady creek banks are thick with cottonwood trees.

In 2003 this area experienced a major flash flood, which washed out a section of Highway 211. This flood damaged the majority of campsites that are across the road, burying fire rings and damaging picnic tables. The campground has been closed for restoration and due to the possibility of more flash floods.

 In the vicinity of Newspaper Rock, there is also Indio Arch and the Shay Canyon Petroglyph site that are not pointed out with signs but are interesting to visit. Past Shay Canyon is another Indian Creek Petroglyph site.

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