Temple Mountain Pictographs

Round Trip Distance: 0.25-0.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5406 - 5433 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Temple Mountain Road
Fee: none
Attractions: Barrier Canyon style pictographs

An easily accessible panel of Barrier Canyon style pictographs can be found just off of the Temple Mountain Road in the San Rafael Swell near Goblin Valley State Park. Barrier Canyon style rock art is concentrated mostly around the San Rafael Swell. One of the most extensive sites is found in Horseshoe Canyon, formerly known as Barrier Canyon, now protected by Canyonlands National Park as an annex. The style dates back to the late archaic period 1500-4000 years ago.

To get to the trailhead turnoff of Highway 24 at the Goblin Valley exit, 24 miles south of Interstate 70. Follow the Temple Mountain Road for 6.2 miles, passing the Goblin Valley Road which turns left at 5.2 miles. Watch for a turnoff leading up a small hill on the right side of the road.

Often times there will be someone camping here which can make it kind of awkward when you have to walk through their camp. It is possible to park along the road and hike up along the cliff to avoid that situation. The metal pipe that you can see sticking up out of the ground is a dry hole marker from a well that was drilled here. It is beyond belief that they would let someone operate a drilling rig with all of its vibrations so close to a site like this. In our opinion there is no amount of gain that can justify such a risky venture and in this case it turned out to be a dry hole anyway.

The panels are along the face of the cliff to the north.

Several inches of the surface of the cliff have peeled off taking what was probably a good part of the images in the process.

Similar to the panels in Horseshoe Canyon these images are quite large and imposing.

The variation in styles gives the impression that the images span a long period of time.

Petroglyphs can be found near a rock shelter on the east end of the cliff.

The black figures appear to have been added at a later date after some of the original images had already begun to fall away.

Close examination reveals the intricate details that many of the Barrier Canyon style pictographs are noted for.

If you catch the light just right you can make out some very faded ghostly figures that may be among the oldest at the site.

Much of the San Rafael Swell is isolated and off the beaten paths that most people travel. Rock art can be found in many of the fingered canyons that permeate the Swell. Unlike sites like Wildhorse Window, Three Finger Canyon and those in the Black Dragon and Horseshoe Canyon areas these are right along a road and much more accessible. If you would like to see them for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.