Round Trip Distance: 4.8 miles
Elevation: 4360-4520 feet
Cellphone: 3-4 bars (at trailhead)
Usage: Hiking -Dogs - No bikes - No OHV
Time: 5 hrs. 25 min.
Facilities: Vault toilet at trailhead
Trailhead: McDonald Creek Canyon
View McDonald Creek Canyon in a larger map
The McDonald Creek Canyon trail is one of several trails at Rabbit Valley. The Fremont Indian rock art is what makes it worth the drive and effort. A Google map isn't going to give you the whole story for getting to the trailhead so I will briefly describe the approach.
Rabbit Valley is located at mile marker 2 on Interstate 70. After turning off at exit 2 drive south back over the interstate. The pavement ends and the road becomes gravel for a short distance. Measure your distance from the first cattle guard you come to just before the large parking area. To go beyond this point you will need a four wheel drive vehicle or OHV. I have driven a two wheel drive Chevy pickup on this road several times but I don't recommend it. On this trip I was driving a four wheel drive Ford truck though. The trick is to turn left at the above sign 4/10 of a mile from the first cattle guard and follow the road through a wash until it rejoins the main or old road. If you go straight instead of taking the left fork be prepared for some major rock crawling. We actually did the rock crawling on the way out and took the easy road coming back. The trailhead is located on the east side of the road across from the Castle Rocks campground. It is 2.5 miles from the interstate to the trailhead.
Once we got to the trailhead we had to sit in the truck for almost an hour waiting for the rain to quit. There were a few other people waiting also but they gave up and left. Even after all the rain the trail wasn't muddy. Everything dried up pretty quick.
The sign at the trailhead says to watch for the first rock art 1/4 of a mile from the trailhead. That will get you looking all over an outcrop that is exactly half way to where the first drawings are located. The first pictograph is a half mile from the trailhead but have fun looking at the other place. Maybe you will find a snake or something. We took a lot of high resolution pictures that came out looking really good but this is about as big as I can post here. If you would like to see the hi-res pictures let me know and I can send you some.
The trail heads on down the canyon traveling in and around the seasonal stream bed. Before we had hiked a mile the stream bed dropped through a crack. We had to hike around on the east side to get around it.
Here is a view from the bottom. Pretty cool aye?
We hiked until we were almost to the Colorado River before we found anymore Fremont rock art. We hunted all over the place looking for drawings. We walked 3/4 of a mile extra looking around but we didn't find anything until we got to this sign. There were a lot of neat alcoves to explore but none of them had any Indian art.
This pair of characters were a little different with one of them being white and looking like some kind of a space ghost or something. We have some good hi-res shots of these guys also.
After taking pictures here we worked our way through the under growth until we reached the railroad tracks and the Colorado River. It seemed like it took a while to get through the brush but it was less than 10 minutes from the rock art to the river.
The trip back to the trailhead only took about an hour or so. The clouds were moving back in and the thunder was echoing through the canyon. The rain started again once we were back at the truck. The scenery was pretty neat. There was a lot of climbing around and scrambling in a few places but everyone managed without any trouble. I only went through 60 ounces of water and one protein bar and a PBandJ sandwich. If you want to see the Fremont Indian rock art for yourself and walk where these ancient Indians walked then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.