Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel

Round Trip Distance: 0.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5345 - 5355 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: MM 23.3 Buckhorn Draw Rd.
Fee: none
Attractions: pictographs, petroglyphs

The Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel is located in Buckhorn Draw within the San Rafael Swell between Green River and Emery, Utah. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Barrier Canyon style pictographs that span over 130 feet of the cliff face as well as a few panels of Fremont pictographs and petroglyphs make up the rock art at Buckhorn Wash.

To get to the area from the south drive west on Interstate 70 from Green River, Utah for about 29 miles and take Exit 131. Follow the road on the north side of the interstate as it parallels the highway for a short distance heading back to the east before it eventually turns northward. This is the Buckhorn Draw Road although some maps label it as the Cottonwood Canyon Road until you reach the San Rafael River. Measure about 23.3 miles from the interstate to the Buckhorn Wash site. The site sits right on the road so there isn't much danger of passing it by.

The trail from the parking area to the shelter at the middle of the panel is probably hard packed enough to be wheelchair accessible. The trails closer to the cliff are too narrow and uneven for a wheelchair.

The site has been equipped with plenty of plaques that provide information on various aspects of the panel as well as various other upgrades such as railings to keep visitors far enough away from the panel that they can't touch it.

Barrier Canyon is the term applied to these Archaic era pictographs. The name comes from the location where the style was first studied. Barrier Canyon has been renamed to Horseshoe Canyon and is now an annex of Canyonlands National Park. The Barrier Canyon style falls into the Late Archaic period making them 1500 to 4000 old.

It is suggested that the best picture taking time is while the sun isn't shining directly on the panel. On the day these pictures were taken the sun was partially filtered by a thin cover of clouds.

These images appear both benevolent and ominous at the same time.

The Old Spanish Trail passed through Buckhorn Draw. The Buckhorn Wash site has suffered from periodic vandalism every since that time. Emery County and the State of Utah had the site restored in 1996 but some damage was impossible to repair.

This is one of the interesting petroglyphs that we traced on the computer to get a better idea of what we were looking at. The Fremont people would have been in the area 1000 years ago making them relative newcomers.

Minerals carried by rain water are slowly covering portions of the panel as can be seen left of center in this photo.

Like many Barrier Canyon rock art sites Buckhorn Wash is off the beaten path and takes a little more planning and effort to reach. Some of that isolation adds to the mystique of the already mysterious images. The people of the Archaic Period were nomadic in nature and followed game trails as the herds migrated throughout the year. That would have brought them by the same localities year after year. Perhaps while at the Buckhorn Wash site they celebrated a particular annual ritual that was part of their religion. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.