Monday, January 16, 2012

Petroglyphs at Capitol Reef National Park

Figures carved at Capitol Reef National Park

Conveniently for park visitors, several wonderful Fremont petroglyphs are easily accessible from Highway 24.  As you follow the main road through the park, you will see the parking area for the petroglyphs.  Wooden platforms and shady boardwalks allow you to see and appreciate these interesting carvings in the rock walls.

Towering rock walls at Capitol Reef

At first, as you stand on the viewing platform beneath the enormity of the towering walls, it is hard to spot the carvings.  But in a few minutes, your eyes become accustomed to picking out the subtle shapes, and you can find figures, animal forms, and more on the lower portion of the rock face.

Big horn sheep petroglyph at Capitol Reef

This particular section of Fremont rock art is almost exclusively petroglyphs (carvings in the rock), as opposed to pictographs (paintings on the rock).   Depictions include animals, figures, and designs.  No one is sure of the meaning of the petroglyphs.  

Animal figures carved in the rock

The Fremont people were contemporary with the Anasazi/Puebloans.  They built pit houses rather than cliff dwellings, however.  The Fremont lived in the area from about 700 to 1300 AD.  No one is sure why these ancient cultures vacated the premises they had inhabited for so long.

More animal carvings.

Even if you are just passing through Capitol Reef National Park, stop for a few minutes and take a look at these petroglyphs.  Unlike other rock art panels found in the western United States, these petroglyphs are easily accessible by car.

More of our Capitol Reef adventures:

1 comment:

  1. I especially like the sheep carvings- very graphic. Though I doubt the Fremont intended them as anything more than storytelling symbols, they have a great stylized quality to them.