Escalante Petroglyphs II

Round Trip Distance: 0.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5015 - 5052 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Dry Fork Escalante Creek
Fee: none
Attractions: Ute petroglyphs

There are two main areas in Escalante Canyon, near Delta, Colorado, that contain panels of petroglyphs. The first site is before crossing the Gunnison River and is referred to on this website as Escalante Petroglyphs I for the lack of a better name. The second site is the one referred to on the BLM sign near the Highway 50 turnoff as the Ute Petroglyphs and it is those that are the object of this post.

The turnoff to the Ute Petroglyphs from the Escalante Canyon Road isn't marked which makes finding them a little tougher. Google Maps 'get directions' function works pretty well for this location but in order to add a few pictures of the approach we are including our own directions. After turning onto the Escalante Canyon Road from Highway 50 measure about 6.2 miles and turn left on the Escalante Rim Road. The road crosses the creek which is normally less than a foot deep. If for some reason you don't feel you should drive your vehicle through the creek you are within a half mile of the petroglyphs at this point.

Follow the Dry Mesa Road at the fork to the petroglyph site. The total distance from the turnoff on the Escalante Road to the petroglyphs is about 0.5 miles. The road is suitable for passenger cars that are able to cross the creek.

The petroglyphs are on the right side of the road.

Some of the panels are heavily vandalised with graffiti making it very difficult to make out the original rock art.

The petroglyphs are identified as Ute in origin because of the presence of horses.

This panel conjures up the idea of a council of chiefs or something.

There is also at least one good teepee petroglyph on one of the panels which is another indicator that these are Ute petroglyphs. The Utes didn't have teepees until they obtained horses that they could use to haul them with. Another way to differentiate Ute and Archaic (7000 B.C. to 400 A.D) petroglyphs are bow and arrows. Archaic Indians didn't have bows but instead used a spear throwing device called an atlatl. A pistol, rifle or any other modern device would also be a good clue. Without obvious clues such as these it takes an expert or someone with a lot of experience that can recognize some of the differences in style and technique.

The white circle is drawn around what looks like a groove left in the rock from sharpening tools.

Escalante Canyon is usually a good place to see bighorn sheep. If you didn't see any on the drive in you might consider driving further up the canyon when you return to the Escalante Canyon Road. These were part of a group that were grazing in one of the fields. We spotted others higher up on the canyon walls and along the creek further in. Other places you might enjoy while visiting in the canyon are the Harper Cabin and  Captain Smith's Cabin. Or you might want to hike the McCarty trail where there is a chance of seeing deer, elk and more bighorn sheep. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.