fun things to do with kids - rock art utah   Travel for Kids
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Rock Art

Newspaper Rock
Ancient rock art, petroglyphs and pictographs, has real appeal for kids. Over thousands of years, prehistoric people created petroglyphs and pictographs on smooth rock cliffs. Petroglyphs are carved in the rock; pictographs are paintings on the rock. The images range from abstract dots, circles and lines, to human forms, handprints, animals (big horn sheep or deer), even people on horseback. Styles can be identified as different time periods, but the interpretation of many rock art symbols is still a mystery.
Tip: The rock art sites described below are accessible and near to Moab, except Newspaper Rock. Bring binoculars to see close-up details of the rock art.
pictograph
  Route 279 (Potash Rd.) Turn off Highway 191 onto Utah Scenic Byway Route 279. Drive 5 miles down Potash Rd., past the part where people are rappelling down the cliffs (this is fun to watch). On the right side, about 20 ft up on the cliffs, are a cluster of petroglyphs human forms that look like aliens, abstract images like fish bones, and animal stick figures. These petroglyphs are in the Formative Period style, 800 - 2,000 years old.
      Dinosaur tracks Continue driving 3/4 mile further down the road, turn right at the sign for "dinosaur tracks." On a flat red sandstone rock (about 30 ft up on the slope above the parking lot) are white tracks of a three-toed allosaurus dinosaur. There's a faint trail if you want to scramble up the slope for a closer look, or just use your binoculars to look at a distance.
pictograph
  Courthouse Wash – Located on Highway 191 just north of Moab, this rock art has pictographs of ghostly human forms with no feet and white shields (some in the Barrier Canyon style dating back thousands of years), and big horn sheep petroglyphs.
    Driving north from Moab, park just beyond the Courthouse Wash bridge. Walk back over the bridge on the bike path. About 200 ft past the bridge, go over to the gravelly little ridge, where you'll see the first cairn marking a dirt trail. Follow the trail to a trailside marker with info about the rock art. For a closer look at the pictographs and petroglyphs, climb up the red sandstone, following the cairns.
petroglyph
  Kane Creek – Take Kane Creek Blvd. west from town, and go 2.3 miles down the road. Park at the Moonflower Canyon dirt parking lot; south of the parking lot on the canyon wall, low to the ground, is a crowded group of rock art figures. The petroglyphs are ancient, with styles from the Archaic (5,000 BC) to Formative (1200 AD) periods. Look for the triangular shaped person with a pointy headdress – that's from the Archaic period. The sheep figures, all jumbled together, are a later style.
petroglyph
  Wolfe Ranch (Arches National Park) – A short distance down the trail to Delicate Arch is our favorite petroglyph site. It's not as old as some of the others, but you can walk right up to it and the figures are quite clear. On the rock is a hunting scene, with a lively bunch of big horn sheep, and people on horseback; the carving is dated from 1650 - 1850 AD.
Newspaper Rock
  Newspaper Rock – On Highway 191, drive 40 miles south from Moab to the junction of Rte 211 (turnoff for the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park). Go 10 miles down the road; on the right side is a parking lot for Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument.
    Some petroglyphs date back 2,000 years, others are only around a 100 years old. Kids will have fun choosing their favorite petroglyphs from the hundreds of different figures on the rock – animals, humans, spirals, squiggles, handprints and footprints.
kids books
     
 

Easy to understand introduction to petroglyphs – how and why petroglyphs were made, and samples of petroglyph styles. Small enough to fit in your pocket. (Guide)


(More children's books on other Utah pages)
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