Robidoux Inscription

Round Trip Distance: 0.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5156 - 5192 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Westwater Creek
Fee: none
Attractions: Numerous petroglyphs, pictographs and historic inscription

The Robidoux Inscription is located along Westwater Creek in the Little Book Cliffs near the Utah/Colorado border. The inscription was made by a French trader named Antoine Robidoux. The Robidoux family left their mark in the early history of the westward expansion of the United States by establishing trading posts and forts in several key places. Antoine built Fort Uncompaghre along the Gunnison River at present day Delta, Colorado as well as Fort Uintah in Utah to the north of this location. Besides the inscription left by Antoine Robidoux there are other panels of rock art of various styles on the canyon walls along both sides of the creek. NOTE: We have been informed that ALL of the land on both sides of the road is on private property even though it might not be signed as such. Please stay on the road where you will still be able to view much of the rock art.

The Google map included with this post can be used to create a personal set of driving instructions that will take you right to the inscription area. During dry weather the road is usually passable with a 2-wheel drive vehicle. The only spot that ever presents a problem is the wash that is a little ways past the abandoned home site that is on the left side of the road a little past where the pavement ends. As you near the inscription site there is a ranch/bed and breakfast on the right. Continue straight past the fork of the East Canyon Road and continue around the bend in the road until you come to the creek. This is a good place to park. There isn't much room but you will probably be the only ones there anyway. After parking find a good place to cross the creek and head toward the cliffs above the cottonwood trees.

These first panels of pictographs and petroglyphs are across the road from the Robidoux Inscription on the east side of the creek. Head for the overhang in this picture to find the first panel.

There are several types of rock art in the West Creek area that range from archaic in style to more modern Ute. Most of the older stuff is pretty faded and some of it has newer rock art either mixed in or placed over top of it.

Many of the boulders have petroglyphs etched on them. A few of them have drawings on more than one side so it takes a bit of work to find them all.

Here is a panel of pictographs that resemble the Barrier Canyon style similar to those at Sego Canyon and other places. Notice that there are some more modern Ute petroglyphs carved over top of them. (Any petroglyphs that depict a horse are obviously Ute.)

There is a very busy panel a little further down the face of the cliff toward the south. This area is better protected from the sun and weather and the rock art is enduring very well.

On the side of a large boulder that sits a few feet away from the cliff there are a few petroglyphs as well as some sharpening grooves.

After examining the east side of the canyon you can find the Robidoux Inscription across the road near the corral. The inscription is on private property so you will have to view it from a distant. There are also other items of rock art located on the cliff to the right and a few other places.

The inscription was done in French but it translates to: 'Antoine Robidoux passed here 13 November 1837 to establish a trading post at the Green River or White.' The last part of the inscription is unclear so there is some debate on the exact meaning. You may also notice that Monsieur Robidoux seemingly gave little regard for the other rock art that was already present at the site.

There are several more panels on the west side of the canyon back toward the south. This area has some pretty nice examples of rock art but this guy that appears to be waving at everyone has to be one of my personal favorites.

The remote location of the Robidoux Inscription and its accompanying assortment of rock art coupled with the fact that much of it is on private property probably attribute to the lack of visitors and public awareness. Hopefully all those that do visit the site will respect the private property and who knows whether some day perhaps the BLM or state of Utah can gain ownership of it like they did at the Range Creek Ranch near Green River, Utah. For those of you who have a keen interest in rock art the Robidoux Inscription area should be very appealing. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.