Sand Island Petroglyphs

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 0.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 4278 - 4346 feet
Cellphone: 2-3 bars
Time: 20 mins.
Trailhead: Sand Island Petroglyphs
Fee: none
Attractions: Petroglyphs




The Sand Island Petroglyphs are found about 4 miles outside of Bluff, Utah. The site has a large number of images dating back between 800 and 2500 years ago. With its location very near a paved highway visitors have the opportunity to see numerous examples of rock art that are common to the area around the San Juan River without expending a lot of effort hiking. A campground with vault toilets, tables and fire pits is located just across the road from the petroglyphs. You will need to bring all your own drinking water though.


About 4 miles west of the town of Bluff is a large sign marking the turnoff for the Sand Island boat launch and campground. Drive down the road and take the dirt road to the right to find the petroglyph site. There is no charge just to visit the site.


The trailhead is across the road from the campground.


Hike up the loose slope where you will find a fence that keeps visitors from getting close enough to damage the rock art.


If you are unable to hike up to the fence you will still be able to see some of the petroglyphs from the road. A pair of binoculars would come in handy.


The Sand Island Petroglyph site might have the highest concentration of the mythical humpback flute player Kokopelli than anywhere else. Kokopelli was a fertility deity for those of you that are new to the name. You might be able to have a 'Where's Waldo' type of contest to see who can count the most Kokopelli figures.


The petroglyphs span thousands of years from 2500 to 800 years ago covering the Archaic Period to the arrival of the horse to the American southwest.


Some of the images are very similar to petroglyphs that are found at other sites both nearby and hundreds of miles away. People of the time may not have had as long a life span as people today but it does show that they did get around.


Say hi to the big guy!


The Sand Island Petroglyph site is among the easiest to get to places to find such a large assortment of rock art. Other sites of interest in the area are the Bluff Great House, that sits on a hill overlooking the town, and the old Bluff Fort Historic Site and Museum. The Sand Island campground is a good alternative for a place to camp while exploring the archaeological sites in the Lower Butler Wash Area like the Procession Panel and Monarch Cave. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.