False Kiva Petroglyphs

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 0.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 3960 - 4103 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Amasa Back
Fee: none
Attractions: petroglyphs, rock structure




The False Kiva Petroglyphs are located off of the Kane Springs Road near Moab, Utah. The site sits at the point of a cliff above the Kane Springs Road where it overlooks the valley below. A well worn trail leads from the Amasa Back trailhead up to the base of the cliff where there is a circular rock structure similar to the one at the False Kiva site in Canyonlands National Park. Numerous panels of  petroglyphs cover the cliff as it wraps into a shallow canyon.


To get to the Amasa Back trailhead from Moab turn west onto Kane Creek Blvd. at the stoplight near McDonalds. Follow the road along the Colorado River to the Kane Springs Road and continue for just under a mile where the trailhead will be on the right. Directly across the road from the trailhead there are two trails. The unmarked trail on the left is the one that leads up to the False Kiva at the point of the cliff. The trail on the right, which has a short stub of a trail marker, is the route through the side canyon to the Magic Theater Arch.


The trail has a few loose rocks but for the most part it is pretty easy going as it switchbacks its way up to the point of the cliff.


The remains of what is called the False Kiva is a short semi-circle stack of rocks that forms an arc around the point of the cliff. Since this is an archaeological site be careful not to disturb it in any way.


Beginning just to the left of the kiva and all along the face of the cliff for several hundred feet into the side canyon are various panels of petroglyphs.


We outlined one interesting petroglyph on the computer to make it stand out. Looking closely at the cliff below the image it appears that at one time there was a thick painted line.


Most of the images are zoomorphic depictions of bighorn sheep, snakes and dogs but there are a few interesting geometric figures mixed in as well. The 2 large circles connected to by a smaller circle that is slightly offset is similar to the configuration of the stars in Orion's belt. At times trying to draw meaning from petroglyphs is like noticing patterns in the clouds where there is some entertainment value but not much more.


It is hard to imagine what is going through someones head that would make them think that chiseling a petroglyph off a cliff would be a good idea. It would be difficult to remove one intact even with power tools. You would have something much more valuable if you took a picture and had it framed. There are also Navajo artists that you can get to paint or chip you a replica on an actual piece of sandstone. Besides being illegal this sort of vandalism is pointless. A person could pick up a slab of rock and make a forgery that is going to look better than how this would have looked.


If you look closely at these two you can see their eyes.


This image looks like it was painted green at one time.


This image looks like Wiley Coyote after being goosed by the Road Runner.


The False Kiva Petroglyphs are close to Moab and an easy site to visit. Other nearby petroglyph sites include the Birthing Rock, Owl Panel, Kane Spring Road Petroglyphs, Moab Maiden, Moab Mastodon and Moonflower Canyon. All of those sites are along a 5 mile stretch of road and should give anyone interested in Indian rock art plenty to do while visiting the Moab area. Please be sure not to do anything that would harm the sites so that they can continue to be enjoyed by visitors in the future. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.