Friday, July 13, 2012

Visiting Newspaper Rock

View of Newspaper Rock

You have seen graffiti on buildings, walls, and railroad cars.  Layers upon layers sometimes exist, as taggers cover the work of others to leave their own mark.  The jumbled chaos of rock art on Newspaper Rock seemed to me a bit like ancient graffiti.

Rock overhanging the petroglyphs.

Who knows why this somewhat remote location became such a popular place to peck petroglyphs into the rock surface.  The dark desert varnish makes a suitable canvas, and the huge rock overhang shelters the figures from some weathering.  However, I was left wondering why this place?  Why so many carvings right here?

Signage at Newspaper Rock

The rock art here dates as early as 2,000 years ago.  Some recent additions are from the Ute tribe in the last century.  From ancient Puebloans to modern people, there must be quite a story in all the figures on the rock, if we only knew what it was!

Close-up of Newspaper Rock

At first the figures seem like a confused jumble, but if you pause to take it all in, you begin to see animals, a bear paw, feet, and more.

Detail of Newspaper Rock

In the above detail photo, you can see the reddish color of older petroglyphs.  These animals are covered by the newer, lighter art.  You can also detect a change in style between the ancient and modern.

Another view of petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock

Detail image of Newspaper Rock

The Navajo call this area by a name that means "rock that tells a story."  Perhaps that is where our name of Newspaper Rock originated.  Some of the carvings are attributed to the Fremont culture, making this an interesting site with both Anasazi and Fremont art.  No one is sure what all of it means.  From abstract symbols to figures on horseback, there is a little bit of everything here.

Again, lighter colored carvings cover older, darker art.

Tall walls of Wingate sandstone rise above Indian Creek.  This monument is on the way to the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park.  It is well-marked and easy to find.  Ample parking is available, as are vault toilets.

Sign and path at Newspaper Rock.

Take a few minutes and ponder all of the wonderful art work here.  It has a remarkable simplicity and beauty.  With literally hundreds of petroglyphs on one panel, this is one of the best-preserved, accessible panels around.  Newspaper Rock is just a short stroll from the parking area.

Taking it all in.

If you go:  To access Newspaper Rock, drive north from Monticello, Utah.  Turn onto Hwy. 211, and continue down the road for 13 miles.  The historic site is well-marked.  This is on the way to Canyonlands National Park.

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