Hidden Panel

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 0.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5475 - 5545 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: MM 26.7 Buckhorn Draw Rd.
Fee: none
Attractions: Petroglyphs, pictographs




The Hidden Panel site is in Buckhorn Draw within the northern area of the San Rafael Swell between Green River and Castle Dale, Utah. Other names for the site that you might hear of are the Big Panel and Buckhorn Cattleguard. The site might be a Class II archaeological site since there are not any trail signs or anything else to pinpoint its location from the roadway.



From Exit 131 on Interstate 70, about 30 miles west of Green River, Utah, measure 26.7 miles heading north on the Buckhorn Draw Road. The first section of the road between the interstate and the San Rafael River is also known as the Cottonwood Wash Road. From several descriptions on the internet, including the BLM, you might find the exit on the interstate listed as Exit 129 but for whatever reason the current exit is 131.


From the road cross the wash and follow the trail up the short hill toward the cliff. The petroglyphs obviously are not visible from the road because they are hidden. That is a bit of a contrast from a lot of the Barrier Canyon style pictographs that often dominate rock surfaces that can be easily seen from a distance such as up the road at the Buckhorn Wash Pictograph site.


The area at the foot of the cliff is surprisingly wide and well hidden. Once you reach that point the secret is out and there is a trail register and a kiosk. We are guessing that all of the small rocks that litter the area have fallen since the time this site was occupied.


The petroglyphs are a little faint but still in very good condition. We stood back to get most of the main group into one photo, which made them harder to see, so we traced them on the computer to get them to stand out better. Since the people of this time covered a large area over the course of a year we postulate that this panel tells the story of their travels. The site may be both a map and a journal or schedule showing what they do where and when they do it.


At the time and point represented by the figures holding hands they appear to be having a festival or ceremonial holiday.


Here they appear to travel up to the mountains. Notice the faint pictographs that have been overlaid with petroglyphs but not in a manner to obscure them anymore than the passing of time has.


Further east on the cliff are more petroglyphs. This panel has what looks like a plant of some type on the far right. It doesn't look like the traditional corn stalk but that may be what it is.


From this vantage point there is a good view down the canyon toward the San Rafael River. It would be easy to watch travelers and game passing through the area.


The section of Buckhorn Draw from the river to the northern end may have been open for grazing at one time but at present that doesn't seem to be the case. The cattle guards that were once used as reference points for several of the sites have been removed. We have made a of the area that shows the location of the trailheads so you can see where they are in relation to each other. The Hidden Panel is also known as the 'Big Panel' If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.