Mellen Hill Site

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 0.5 - 1.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 5688 - 5797 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Usage: Hiking - Dogs
Time: 30 - 90 mins.
Facilities: none
Trailhead: Mellen Hill
Fee: none
Attractions: Petroglyphs, pictographs
 


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The Mellen Hill Site is a series of caves along Highway 64 that show signs of habitation by Fremont and Ute Indians. The caves have panels of petroglyphs and pictographs done in red, white and yellow colors. Most of the rock art is located near the opening of the smaller cave near the head of the canyon located directly across from the trailhead. Some minor scrambling is required to get to the other side of the wash where the caves are located and to a larger degree if any of the lower caves further down the drainage are visited.


The trailhead for the Mellen Hill Site is at milepost 7.3 along Highway 64 north of Rangely, Colorado. There aren't any signs so when you get close to the site mileage wise watch for a pullout on the east side of the road with a green trash barrel.


The trail from the parking area parallels the road heading north above the wash.


The main caves are clearly visible on the opposite side of the small canyon.


A little bit of scrambling is required to get down the hill and across the wash to the caves.


The first cave is the largest but there isn't much of anything in it. Walk through this cave and find the trail to the smaller one that is closer to the head of the canyon.


The area around the smaller cave is covered with many very interesting images. Note the different colors of red, white and yellow.


Some of the white images look like they were pecked like a petroglyph and then painted like a pictograph. This is the first time we have seen anything quite like them.


An owl was nesting on a ledge beneath the overhang of the big cave. It was being pretty quiet and blent in quite well with its surroundings. We noticed everyone was going right past without noticing it.


There are several more caves further down the canyon but it is a lot harder to get to them.


The last one that we looked at had petroglyphs above the center of the cave, on a large boulder in the middle and on the cliff to the left of the opening.


There is also a small alcove beneath the spillover at the head of the canyon but there is no need to waste any time on it. It is hard to get to and there is nothing there. Mellen Hill is site #1 on the Rangely Rock Art Tour of the Canyon Pintado National Historic District. There are 16 sites in all counting Keely's Homestead Site which doesn't have any rock art. The Mellen Hill Site is exceptional because of its unique petroglyphs and pictographs. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.