White Birds

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 0.1 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5866 - 5934 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Highway 139 MM 56.5
Fee: none
Attractions: pictographs




White Birds is a site in the Canyon Pintado National Historic District south of Rangely, Colorado. The location is one of a half dozen similar sites in the district with easy to access rock art in the form of both pictographs (painted) and petroglyphs (pecked) that date from the historic Ute times all the way back to much earlier Fremont and Barrier Canyon periods.


The trailhead is located along Highway 139 near mile marker 56.5 about 15 miles from its junction with Highway 64 on the eastern outskirts of the town of Rangely.


A kiosk near the roadway details the different time periods from the last ice age, 10,000 years ago, to the present time.


To get a closeup view of the pictographs you will need to climb the short trail up the hillside to a location that sits about 70 feet above the highway.


Here you will find another viewing area and another kiosk.


This kiosk has interesting information about crops both wild, like pigweed and goosefoot, and cultivated, like corn.


Even from the viewing area the pictographs are still a little too far away to get a good look at.


If you choose to get a closer look just be sure not to touch them as the oil on your fingers will damage them. (If you don't think that your dry feeling fingers are oily enough to damage the rock art then touch them to a stainless steel faucet and look at the grimy mess they leave behind. If you are wearing makeup or sunscreen the the mess is even worse.)


There aren't a lot of white birds flying around the Douglas Creek area so it makes you wonder how far these people had traveled not to mention what the white birds were supposed to represent.


The image on the right looks like a pepper.


Off to the left amongst all of the gringo graffiti is the outline of another image.


There are quite a few wild horses in the Douglas Creek area. On the day we took the pictures for this post we could see a small herd grazing on the opposite hillside.


The White Birds site is a good stop to learn about the early peoples use of pigweed and goosefoot. If you go looking for some to harvest try to avoid gathering any from around roadways because supposedly it can be contaminated by all of the vehicle traffic. Whether that is an old wives tale or something that dates back to the days when they put lead in the gasoline we don't know. What we do know is that if you want to see some interesting pictographs then stop at the White Birds site. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.