DeBeque Cutoff Petroglyphs

Round Trip Distance: 0.1 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5222 - 5232 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 3 hrs. 45 mins.
Trailhead: DeBeque Cutoff Rd. and Highway 65
Fee: none
Attractions: rock art

The DeBeque Cutoff Petroglyphs are located near the intersection of the DeBeque Cutoff Road, 45 1/2 Rd., and Highway 65. The site contains images that are both petroglyphs (pecked, scratched, incised ...) and pictographs (painted).

The DeBeque Cutoff stretches between Highway 65, north of the town of Mesa, and the DeBeque area. The petroglyph site is located at a pullout about a hundred yards east of where the cutoff and highway intersect.

We have known about this site for over 30 years. Sometime during that period the land may have passed into private hands. In the past there wasn't a fence or gate here. Whether it is now private property or not isn't really a problem because the petroglyphs are mostly visible from the road.

We outlined the petroglyphs on the computer to make them stand out better. The bear paws at the bottom left hand side of the panel are actually pictographs that were done with white paint and didn't need to be outlined. Directly above them is what looked like a possible teepee although it was very faint. Teepees came about after horses were introduced to the continent by the Spaniards in the late 15th century. Since there aren't any images of horses this might not actually be a teepee. Before the Utes had horses they used travapois that were pulled around by dogs. I've read that the Utes claimed to have much larger dogs at one time but they still wouldn't have been big enough to pull a teepee.

Bear Paws are a common theme at the site. In the upper middle portion of this photo, to the right of the letters SOM, is what looks like a necklace hanging around the neck of a bearded man. It looks similar to images found at a few other sites although less complete as far as the face and head are concerned. Some people are surprised to hear of Indians with beards but Padre Escalante commented in his journal that when they came upon a Ute tribe in 1776 near what is now named Utah Lake that the men all had beards.

This is just a short post to let people know about a petroglyph site in the Grand Junction, Colorado area that many of them have driven by numerous times and were unaware of. Back in the 1980's I used to help my father-in-law herd cows in the DeBeque Cutoff and that is how I know that at one time it was mostly BLM land. It is such a pretty area that it is too bad that it couldn't have stayed in the public's domain for everyone's better enjoyment. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.