Rough Canyon Petroglyphs

Round Trip Distance: 1.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 6011 - 6137 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Bangs Canyon Staging Area
Fee: none
Attractions: petroglyphs

The Rough Canyon Petroglyphs are located in the BLM Bangs Canyon Management Area near Grand Junction, Colorado. The petroglyphs can be found along a side trail of the Rough Canyon trail. Most people that hike within Rough Canyon pass by within 50 feet of the petroglyphs not knowing of their existence. The main panel of petroglyphs seems to attract vandals on a regular basis. Perhaps if more people knew where the were they would pay more attention to what others are doing in the area and report vandals and anyone digging for artifacts to the phone number on the sign.

The Bangs Canyon Staging Area trailhead provides access for those hiking in Rough Canyon, the Mica Mine in Ladder Canyon and other areas like Billings Canyon and Upper Bangs Canyon. The Tabeguache trail passes through the area also and is popular with off road enthusiasts, horseback riders and mountain bikers. It is also the staging area for the infamous Billings Canyon Jeep trail.

The petroglyphs are within a half mile of the trailhead. About the only slightly challenging part of the hike is the old cut through the sandstone cliff that has a series of short ledges to climb up and down. Many people of all ages seem to negotiate the cut everyday with little or no trouble.

After the cut the trail comes to a 'T' where the Mica Mine continues to the right and the trail into Rough Canyon is to the left.

The trail descends a short distance into the wash and follows it in a general manner on into the canyon.

As the trail wraps around the first major bend stay to the right and take the high trail that leads over a short rise in the wash.

From here you should be able to see the cliff with the petroglyphs that has a large boulder in front of it. The easiest route around the boulder is probably on the left side but either way will do.

The petroglyphs appear Archaic (7,000 B.C. - 400 A.D.) in style. If you look closely you might notice that each figure appears to have been pecked onto the rock rather than scratched or carved.

There are several petroglyphs that are easy to miss. One is on a smaller boulder between the cliff and the large rock.

Another one is on the large rock itself.

There are a few other isolated petroglyphs in Rough Canyon but unfortunately there is also a considerable amount of graffiti. If you stay in the wash and close to the cliff on the way back to the trailhead you might notice one other petroglyph that appears to be genuine.

Most of the petroglyphs in the Grand Junction area appear to be of the  Archaic and Ute styles. The petroglyphs in Rough Canyon are among the more than half dozen other sites within about 10 miles of city limits. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.