Shaman Panel

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 0.25 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 5615 - 5648 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Shaman Panel
Fee: none
Attractions: Petroglyphs




The Shaman Panel is located in Long Park between Naturita and Paradox, Colorado. Secluded away within a short rugged canyon are scores of well preserved images etched in stone by those that inhabited the area hundreds of years ago. The panel is just one of a handful or two other sites that provide an insight into the prehistory of the area.


There are several routes that will get to the trailhead but the route that we took began by turning off of Highway 141 onto Highway 90 about 2 miles from Naturita and measuring about 6.3 miles before turning right onto an unmarked dirt road. The turnoff is after mile marker 28 but before mile marker 27. About 500 feet before reaching the turnoff EE21 Road turns off on the left. After turning off the road you will pass through a gate and continue across private land. Be sure to leave the gate the way that you find it and be respectful of the land so their gracious easement will continue.


When the road is dry it should be easy to travel in a medium to high clearance vehicle. The higher clearance is needed mostly where the road crosses a sandy wash. If the road is muddy it shouldn't be traveled on.


The road comes to an end after 2.9 miles at a deep wash near the mouth of a rugged looking side canyon.


The petroglyph panels are only a short distance up the wash from the trailhead. Some of them can even be seen with a good pair of binoculars although most of them are hidden from sight.


On the other side of the wash there is a well established trail that leads past a juniper tree that has a 'Protect America's Past' sign affixed to it.


There are two spillovers that have to be conquered to get up to the petroglyphs. The route scrambles around on the right side of the first spillover. The scramble requires using your hands and stretching your legs (but nothing this old man couldn't handle).


For the second spillover the route climbs over an outcrop on the left. We found it to be a little awkward to make the transition at the top of the short scramble where we had to turn around in order to drop feet first back down into the wash. The white lines that we drew are where there are some handy toe holds. It wouldn't have been nearly as awkward without all the camera equipment and waist pack.


Getting to the main panel of petroglyphs requires shinning up a log that might be as old as the petroglyphs themselves. Note that there are petroglyphs near the bottom of the log and within the gap that you have to crawl through. Be sure to take the time to place your hands where they aren't touching any of the images so that they don't get contaminated with the damaging oils from your skin. If you look at the rock you can see that the surface is pitted more and the patina is missing in the areas where people's skin has probably been coming into contact with it even back in the day when the petroglyphs were first created. It looks to be an excellent example of the chemical effect on the sandstone surface.


Once you make it up the log the petroglyphs are stretched out all along the face of the rock for at least 20 feet. This photo is just the right hand side of the long panel.


There are literally scores upon scores of images to take in. Be sure to tread lightly and remember that it is illegal to make outlines or rubbings of the images or to do anything else that might damage them. Nowadays it is just as easy to take a picture and then put it on your computer to examine it more closely or even to enhance it.


Back in the main wash there are a few more places with petroglyphs. The original patina is wearing off of the rock where this panel is located and taking the images with it.


Located high above the wash is a lone well preserved image. It is possible to scramble up a precarious slope of loose talus to get a closer look but we settled for using a zoom lens instead.


Getting back down the wash, and even the log, turned out to be easier than it was going up. We were able to sit down and go feet first down the log and the spillovers with little trouble. There are a lot of petroglyphs sites in the Paradox area. Several of them are within walking distance of the Shaman Panel and others are only a short drive away. The Shaman Panel is one of the larger and better preserved of all the sites. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.