Roc Creek Petroglyphs

Round Trip Distance: 2.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 4750 - 5057 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Highway 141 MM 89.2
Fee: none
Attractions: petroglyphs

The Roc Creek Petroglyphs trail is located just off of Highway 141 between the towns of Gateway and Naturita, Colorado. The trail follows an abandoned jeep road up to a ridge where a singletrack trail continues for several hundred feet to an overhang that sits above the valley below. Part of the trail crosses private property but according to the website the West End Trail Alliance the BLM has secured the proper permission from the landowner to cross their property.

To get to the trailhead drive either south on Highway 141 for 22 miles from Gateway, Colorado or 29 miles north from Naturita. The turnoff is on the west side of the highway at about mile marker 89.2. After parking head up the double track on the right.

After a hundred feet or so the road comes to a gate with a private property sign. According to the West End Trail Alliance website the BLM has obtained permission to trespass for what it infers is the short distance that the trail crosses the private property. We were a little apprehensive about doing that but we had a printout of the website with us just in case. We suggest that others do the same. Often when a trail crosses private property there will be official signs acknowledging that it is private property and mentioning to stay on the trail. Since the BLM often times isn't allowed to use signs that point the way to archeological sites we thought that might be why there were no right of passage type signs here. We would feel better if the landowner simply put a self pay box up and charged $4 or $5/person if they are really fine with the idea. (That is the going rate for one of the best rock art sites in the State of Utah near Vernal that is on private property.)

After passing through the gate the road bends around and begins climbing the side of the hill back toward the other direction.

Near the 3/4 mile point there are some nice views looking down into the canyon.

The trail reaches a fence that it follows until it comes to a ridge. There is another gate in the fence but rather than go through it stay on the east side of it and head toward the ridge.

At the ridge the trail follows a faint single track around the south side of the cliff.

The trail leads to a long overhang where the pictographs are stretched out from one end to the other.

The first petroglyphs look like they may have been painted at one time. We highlighted some of them on the computer to make them stand out.

It appears that there are at least 3 different styles of petroglyphs which might indicate that the site was used by several peoples over a long period of time.

Be sure to glance down at the large rocks that are on the ground to see some petroglyphs that are somewhat unique.

If you zoom in on this photo you might notice that these images aren't pecked into the rock like most petroglyphs but appear to have been overlaid upon it.

The Roc Creek Petroglyph site is well worth a visit for those that are interested in Native American rock art. If we obtain more information about the trespass/no trespass aspect of the trail we will update this post with it. For the time being we suggest printing out the webpage with the statement (The trail near the stackyard is on private property and the Bureau of Land Management has obtained access approval from the landowner. Please respect private property.) from the West End Trail Alliance website and taking it with you. While we were there taking the photos for this post we did see several sets of footprints from other visitors. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.