Ascending Sheep Panel

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 1.4 - 6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 6142 - 6537 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Moore Cutoff Rd.
Fee: none
Attractions: pictographs




The Ascending Sheep Panel is located in the Molen Reef area of the San Rafael Swell in Emery County, Utah near the town of Moore. The panel consists of a number of Barrier Canyon Style images that depict a parade of bighorn sheep ascending from both sides up to another interesting figure that has the head of a sheep and a snake in its mouth.


If coming from the direction of Green River take Exit 116 from Interstate 70 and follow the Moore Cutoff Road, Emery County Road 803, for just over 14 miles where a 4wd road begins on the right. The turnoff is about 2 miles from the town of Moore.


A 4wd vehicle is required to go very far after passing through the gate. Hiking or mountain biking from this point will result in a round trip distance of 6 miles.


The road is very rough in spots as it climbs up to the top of the mesa. Stay on the main road all the way up to the 1.1 mile point and then keep right at the next several forks.


At the 2.3 mile point from the highway the road arrives at the edge of the mesa overlooking the highway below. It took us 30 minutes to make the drive in our Tundra.


The side road that leads to the Ascending Sheep Panel is about 325 feet back down the access road from the trailhead.


From that junction it is right around 3/4 of a mile to the panel. There are several other trails that branch off to the left and to the right that add some confusion into the route finding. It is very helpful to print out our map to take along and even better if you have a handheld GPS with our GPX file loaded on it or a GPS app for your mobile phone.


There is really no reason not to drive all the way to the Ascending Sheep Panel other than enjoying some easy hiking. If your vehicle made it up the first mile of the road it will have no trouble with the next 2 miles as long as it is dry. That would lower the round trip hiking distance to about 200 feet. In this photo the pictographs are beneath an overhang on the left side of the rocky outcrop. The photo was taken from the turnaround spot of the road.


The images aren't very large but they are still visible from a distance.


It is interesting how the paint has a smear look in the image on the right. Makes you wonder if it was intentional or came about by some other way. Notice the image left of center that looks like a guy doing the old 'how big is a beach ball' thing with his hands clasped over his head.


The main attraction at the site is the Ascending Sheep imagery. Also note though a faint image above the seam in the rock that looks like a long red snake with at least one leg or arm.


The main image has the head of a bighorn with a snake in its mouth. It also has a snake in its left hand which is in contact with the front legs of one of the bighorn. Perched in its right hand is another image that is sometimes seen on the shoulders of  images elsewhere. If you consider the motif of a kachina dancer during the Hopi 'snake in the mouth' ceremony where the dancers wear various headdresses and grasp live snakes in their hands, also while holding one in their mouth, as they dance around the circle it adds some familiarity to the scene.


Off to the right are two more tall slender images with what might be horns but look more like antennae but could even be feathers. Notice that the two lines of sheep that begin beneath them are climbing away in opposite directions. We have no idea what it means but it is notable nonetheless. There is another image to the right of these with only the head and upper torso remaining. The rock with the rest of the image has peeled off of the cliff. As a matter of fact if you look at all the area with missing rock it appears that there could have been a lot more images to the panel when it was originally created.



There are several primitive campsites in the area for anyone wishing to spend more time there. We hiked along the rim quite a ways on our visit. Be careful not to drive your vehicle too close to the edge. There are cracks in the ground as much as 10-12 feet from the rim where huge sections of the cliff are in the process of calving off into the valley below like icebergs from a glacier. Not everyone is going to have a suitable vehicle to drive to the Ascending Sheep Panel but the distance from the highway is short enough that a lot more people could get there on foot. If you like visiting rock art sites you will probably find it well worth the effort however you go about it. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.