Over my years of walking, I’ve been fortunate to see various rock images in the backcountry.
These pictographs and petroglyphs fascinate me because of the story they tell. People who came this way and traveled the paths we walk today and lived their lives in the areas I’m visiting.
I thought I’d collect some of my favorite ones because of the striking imagery, what it may represent, or historical interest, among other facets.
These images are mainly from the Colorado Plateau in Utah, but I have some images from other places, such as nearby Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Along with further afield locations such as Nevada, the High Plains, or even north of Banff.
I get asked where I find these images. For the more well-known ones (such as Newspaper Rock), I list them. The more obscure ones? Well, I’ll leave them vague. 🙂
As I’ve mentioned before, I am not any kind of “-ologist” scientist, and I am a person of European background. I can’t speak to the meaning of the images, nor am I authoritative about the history and possible context. But I am an enthusiast and have seen a fair amount of them.
If you want to know more about the images in general, the classic, if an outdated name, is Indian Rock Art of the Southwest by Polly Schaafsma. This book takes a deeper dive with an academic focus and goes into its relationship with Meso-America.
For more information on the Ancestral Pueblo and the Chaco culture, particularly, the People of Chaco stands as a good one-volume introduction.
For more current information and lively debates about many topics, I enjoy watching Archeology Southwest on YouTube. For some thought-provoking ideas, the Native American Power Rangers Instagram account features thoughts by Indigenous park rangers. Some of whom are archeologists.
If you want a guidebook, Non-Technical Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau provides a thorough resource for the area. Kelsey’s maps and writing style take some getting used to overall. But still offers the best information even in our mainly online information era.
If you want a deep dive into the place names and history of the areas, the two-volume Utah’s Canyon Country Place Names by Steve Allen makes for a wormhole where you’ll take a deep dive. Expensive but worth it for any Colorado Plateau enthusiast.
Finally, not everything is in a guidebook or map. In the words of a great philosopher – “You can observe a lot by just watching.”
Updated Jan 2023
On to the images…
Click an image to see it or to start a slide show.