Waving Hands

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 0.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5996 - 6035 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Highway 139 MM 53
Fee: none
Attractions: petroglyphs and pictographs




Waving Hands is a rock art site in the Canyon Pintado National Historic District south of Rangely, Colorado. Among the things that you can learn at the Waving Hands site are how they made the paint that the pictographs were painted with and what they used to create the different colors of paint. There is also some good information on rock art in general.


The trailhead is located along Highway 139 near mile marker 53 about 18 miles from its junction with Highway 64 on the eastern outskirts of the town of Rangely.


There are two main panels of rock art at the Waving Hands site. From the trailhead the Waving Hands panel is to the left and the Guardian panel is to the right.


For this post we followed the trail to the left to check out the Waving Hands panel first.


We highlighted some of the images on the computer to make them stand out because a few of them are so faded that they are easy to miss. We used the same colors to highlight the images as they were originally done with. The horses were obviously done during the historic Ute period. We wondered if there was any significance to the two horses on the right where one was done with white paint (white man?) and the other with red. Notice the figures below the waving hands that are of men standing behind large shields. There were a few more of these shield figures off to the right that we didn't bother to highlight.


We also didn't bother highlighting the images of the white bird and the waving hands because they show up very well just the way they are. This panel is protected by a large overhang which as long as it doesn't come crashing down should protect the images for years to come.


If you follow the trail back towards the parking area you will find the Guardian panel. This trail looks like it might be wheelchair accessible under good conditions. It is well packed and wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair.


The main pictograph is easy enough to see from the viewing area but if you can't get any closer you might want to bring some binoculars and a good zoom lens.


As it reads on the kiosk, 'This figure, known as The Guardian, is neither Fremont or fully Barrier Canyon, but possibly a transitional style from about 2,500 to 1,500 years ago'.


Here are some smaller images that are off to the side.


This image looks like that of a buffalo. There is an entry in the Dominguez-Escalante Journal that mentions them killing a buffalo near the present day location of the town of Rangely. It is something that they probably looked back on fondly when they were in southern Utah and had to kill one of their horses to avoid starvation. They actually had to resort to horsemeat on several occasions before their journey was complete.


There is also an 'Orientation Site' just down the road from the Waving Hands site. There you will find a restroom and several more kiosks that you can glean even more information from. The Canyon Pintado National Historic District is a real treasure with sites that are mostly very easy to get to. Please do everything that you can to help protect the sites so that the treasure can continue to be handed down from one generation to the next. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.