Fort Pearce Wash Rock Art

Round Trip Distance: 2.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 2893 - 3039 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Fort Pearce
Fee: none
Attractions: petroglyphs, pictographs

Fort Pearce Wash, located east of St. George, Utah, has a large assortment of rock art that includes both petroglyphs and pictographs. A natural spring provided water for early inhabitants of the area and made the wash a common route for anyone passing through. Pictographs can be found beneath several overhangs while numerous petroglyphs adorn the cliffs above the wash as well as one large boulder.

To get there you can either enter Fort Pearce Historic Site into your driving app or from Interstate 15 take exit 2 for UT-7, the Southern Parkway. Continue for 10.4 miles and take the exit for the Warner Valley Road. Follow the Warner Valley Road for 6 miles and turn right at the sign for Fort Pearce. Your driving app might only give directions up to the last turnoff but from there it is less than another half mile to the fort. The roads are normally passable by most 2wd vehicles during dry conditions.

This is a photo from near the parking area that we marked to show the general location of some of the rock art to give you a little idea of what to expect and what to look for.

From the parking area find your way down to a trail that heads west through the wash. Be sure to stay on the north side of the stream the entire way. The brush is very thick in the upper part of the wash but someone has used a pair of clippers to trim it back in places. If you happen to have a pair of your own clippers to bring along you might consider making some additional improvements.

As the trail gets close to the cliff it passes what may have once been a small granary on a shelf above the wash. Nearby is a shallow alcove that shows signs of previous campfires. It is just beyond that where there are some handprints on the cliff that due to the direction they face are easier to spot on the return trip.

A little further is an area where there are quite a few inscriptions that date from the late 1800's up to 1954.

Under an overhang there are a few inscriptions that are painted black that draw your attention way from quite a few pictographs that were painted in white. A couple of the inscriptions were even made right over top of some of the pictographs.

The route gets more difficult after passing the inscriptions as the trail weaves its way through the tangled brush and scrambles up some rocks to get out of the bottom of the wash. From that point on travel becomes much easier as the trail leaves the brush behind. A few hundred yards from the inscriptions watch for a very large slab of rock that is about a third or half way up the side of the hill that is covered with quite a few petroglyphs.

Also keep your eyes peeled for numerous other petroglyphs way up on the face of the cliffs. A pair of binoculars makes them easier to spot. We used a telephoto lens to take pictures of them from below. If you climb up to get a closer look at them the round trip distance will increase accordingly and the difficulty will become much more strenuous.

It seems that most any spot that looks suitable for petroglyphs has at least 1 or 2 while some spots have dozens of images.

As the route progresses it becomes easier to follow a trail that dirt bikers have made. Somewhere past the half mile point from the trailhead the overhang with the Red Man pictograph comes into view. A keen eye should be able to spot the image even from this distance. There is a stretch of trail almost a half mile long between the last petroglyphs and the Red Man panel. Following the dirt bike trail makes it go by pretty fast.

At present there isn't a route marked that leads up to the Red Man pictograph. The best option might be to stay on the dirt bike trail until you come to a shallow wash directly below it and then begin working your way up through the boulders. The pictograph is an interesting one to contemplate. Notice the difference between the 2 eyes. We were wondering if it might be that the shadow from the overhang would be cutting across the eyes at the time of the Winter Solstice. It might also be that the edge to the right of the image creates a vertical shadow near sunrise that lands somewhere upon the image at one of the solstices or equinoxes.

We didn't spot the handprints until our return trip. They appear to have been made using a type of  mud cement.

The number of petroglyphs and pictographs are impressive in the short distance of this part of Fort Pearce Wash. We would have climbed the slope to get a better view of them if we hadn't hiked around 15 miles the day before. Once a person climbs up to the first panel they might be able to find a trail that leads along the cliff to the others so they don't have to keep climbing up and down. While it would definitely be more strenuous it would surely also be more rewarding. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.