Paradox Valley Petroglyphs

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: ~3.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5456 - 5600 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 3 hrs.
Trailhead: Highway 90 MM 27.9
Fee: none
Attractions: Petroglyphs




Located along the hillside in the Paradox Valley between Bedrock and Naturita, Colorado is an area strewn with boulders, many of which are covered with petroglyphs. The area is a little less than a half mile from the Shaman Panel and the two sites are often visited together.


To get to the turnoff follow Highway 90 from its junction with Highway 141 near Naturita for about 9 miles. The turnoff is a few hundred yards past mile marker 25 on the right side of the road.


According to the Naturita Information Center the road crosses private property to get to the BLM land on the other side so be sure to close the gate and take care to stay within the landowners good graces.


After following the road for about 3/4 of a mile it comes to a deep wash that the brochure from the Naturita Information Center calls impassable. Passenger cars should be able to make it this far during good conditions and begin hiking from here. The road has an adobe clay base and should be avoided by everyone during wet soaking conditions.


The road splits about a quarter mile past the wash. Both forks take opposite routes around the hill and meet back up on the other side so it doesn't matter which one you take.


After the two forks of the road reunite it is only a short distance before another fork comes up. The left fork leads straight to a fenced area around a large boulder.


The fenced area can be entered through a gate so that the numerous petroglyphs that cover both sides of the boulder can be examined close up. Remember to not touch the petroglyphs so as not to get oil from your hands on them. To get an idea of damage the oil on your hands can cause see an example at the Shaman Panel where the passageway squeezes by some images. Be sure to close the gate once you leave so that cattle can't get in and rub up against the petroglyphs. (Hark, the reason for the fence in the first place.)


After leaving the fenced area follow the trail along the south side of it that makes a gentle climb to where there are more boulders that are covered with petroglyphs.


There are dozens of interesting images and to see them all you pretty much have to scramble completely around all the different boulders carefully looking both high and low. Some of the older ones are more faded and harder to pick out.


The people that made the petroglyphs seemed to have an affinity for large game tracks which may have been part of their hunting magic.


This image is that of a stork or heron that has a frog or other small critter in the grasp of its beak.


There are enough petroglyphs amongst all the boulders that a person might get petroglyph fatigue studying all of them. There are also a few broken metates that would have been used to grind grains and such as well as one boulder with quite a few sharpening grooves that were made in the process of putting an edge or point on weapons and tools.


Those that haven't been to the Shaman Panel will want to be sure and pay it a visit while they are already so close by continuing on down to the end of the road. It will add less than a mile to the total round trip distance. If you have a suitable OHV you could even drive there. On this trip we put the truck in 4wd and drove through the wash and parked at the first fork before we began hiking but we could have kept driving all the way to the fenced area. However you go about it the Paradox Valley Boulder Petroglyphs can be a fun place to hunt for rock art. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.