McKee Spring Petroglyphs

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 0.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5063 - 5115 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 45 mins.
Trailhead: McKee Spring
Fee: none
Attractions: Fremont petroglyphs




The McKee Spring Petroglyphs are located in the Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal, Utah. The site boasts several panels of very well preserved Fremont/Classic Vernal style petroglyphs. McKee Spring is about 22 miles from the Visitor Center in a semi remote area of the monument.


To get there from the Visitor Center head back out on the entrance road and turn right onto the Brush Creek Road at the intersection of 9600 E and 3500 S. Follow the Brush Creek Road for about 8.7 miles and turn right on to the Island Park Road.


It is 10.5 miles down the unpaved Island Park Road to McKee Spring. The road is generally easy for passenger cars but may be impassible when wet. Current conditions can be obtained at the Visitor Center.


From the roadway a short trail heads toward the cliffs and splits into a loop that can be followed in either direction. Whichever direction you choose be sure to look at all faces of the cliffs so not to miss images that might not be as noticeable in the direction that you are hiking.


Before proceeding visitors are reminded not to touch the petroglyphs and that it is illegal to disturb the site in any fashion including digging and probing for artifacts.


For this post we followed the loop to the right up several switchbacks until the trail reached the base of the cliffs. The images in this photo were high up near the point of the cliff.


This image of concentric circles is in a spot that indicates it may have been used as part of a solar calendar.


An interesting petroglyph near the point of the cliff nearest the side canyon shows a figure with a wide open mouth and what looks like a snake. We thought that it was an interesting take on the 'snake in the mouth' ceremony. We explored on around the cliff into the side canyon and found a few more very faded petroglyphs and pictographs including a lizard similar to those in the Cub Creek area. The main part of the body was washed out but the lizards toes were very visible.


Continuing along the base of the cliff along the loop trail is an image that looks a lot like an owl.


The iconic panel at McKee Spring looks similar to the Classic Vernal Style images at the nearby McConkie Ranch where the images purportedly represent headhunters.


Here are a few more of the same.


This panel has some very interesting images that appear to be telling a specific story. The figures that were made upside down indicate they are dead but the significance of that is unknown.


We outlined these images on the computer to make them stand out. We actually thought the scene was a little disturbing because it looks like a family photo where the tall male figure on the left with his stylized penal display, holding a trophy head in his right hand, and his left elbow resting on the shorter figure, indicating his offspring, and the mother on the right who is also dangling what might be a head all posing as a happy family.


The McKee Spring Petroglyphs get many visitors on a daily basis even at their remote location in Dinosaur National Monument. Some of the visitors are river rats that are traveling to and from the nearby boat launches along the Green River in Island Park and Rainbow Park. To get the best view of the Fremont and Classic Vernal Style rock art be sure to visit all the sites in Dinosaur National Monument and the McConkie Ranch. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.