Owl Panel

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 1.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 3958 - 4195 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Amasa Back
Fee: none
Attractions: petroglyphs




The Owl Panel is located off of the Kane Springs Road near Moab, Utah. It can be accessed from the Amasa Back/Cliffhanger trail via a primitive route that works its way up a slope of loose rocks and dirt then around the base of a cliff where hikers can find petroglyphs that were left by a few of the areas indigenous people that have inhabited the area off and on for thousands of years.


The Amasa Back trailhead is about 5.3 miles from Moab measuring from the intersection of Highway 191 and Kane Creek Blvd. Turn onto Kane Creek Blvd. at the McDonald's Restaurant and follow it as it parallels the Colorado River for about 4.6 miles before turning up Kane Creek. The Jackson Hole trailhead is at the 4.6 mile point and the Amasa Back trailhead is near the 5.3 mile point. From the Amasa Back trailhead it is a little more than a half mile to the beginning of the Amasa Back trail.


The shortest route to the Owl Panel is to follow the 4-wheel drive Amasa Back/Cliffhanger Road as it drops down a series of rough ledges. An easy to hike, yet slightly longer, route is to follow the Hymasa trail.


At the base of the hill the road crosses Kane Creek which is usually easy enough to cross and keep your feet dry.


On the opposite side of the creek the trail starts climbing along uneven slickrock that takes it through a green Powder River gate and on up the hill until it comes to a junction with the Captain Ahab trail.


From the Captain Ahab trail junction the route continues climbing up a switchback. As the trail levels off it comes to the point where the unmarked route to the Owl Panel branches off on the right. Finding this turnoff might be the biggest challenge of the hike.


When you leave the road you should be able to see a faint trail that takes off toward the cliffs. The trail climbs along the west side of a wash. As soon as the trail gets above a small spillover it crosses the wash and continues on the other side.


After a little effort the trail reaches a bench that stretches along the base of the cliff. There are petroglyphs here and there all along the cliff including a probable solar calendar that is situated under a small overhang.


The Owl Panel has several very interesting images, one of which is the Big Man. The image brings to mind an old Hopi legend that mentions fierce tall warriors with big feet. Also interesting are the two birdmen.


The Owl Panel is remarkably well preserved. The patina looks darker than some of the other panels which would seem to indicate that it has an older creation date.


This is an example of nearby images with much lighter patina.


You've gotta love the local humor.


If you have to begin hiking from the Amasa Back trailhead you should add another mile to the round trip distance. We were able to park up around the curve along the Kane Spring Road at a spot where it is still allowed so we only had to hike a few hundred yards extra. A portion of the Owl Panel can be seen from the Kane Springs Road. Spotting it before hand can make the route finding easier. There is a well worn climbers trail that goes off to the right as you begin down the Amasa Back trail that looks like a good route but it doesn't really get you to the Owl Panel without a lot of extra scrambling around. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.