Walnut Knob

Round Trip Distance: 0.6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 4962 - 5281 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 1 hr. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Arch Canyon
Fee: none
Attractions: petroglyphs

Walnut Knob can be found in Comb Wash near the mouth of Arch Canyon west of Blanding, Utah. From its elevated vantage point some 300 feet above the wash it has a commanding view of the mouth of Arch Canyon and the east side of Comb Wash where you can see Chief Posey's trail as it climbs to the top of Comb Ridge. Walnut Knob has some very nice Ute petroglyphs.

To get to the trailhead drive 4 miles south from Blanding on Highway 191 and turn right on Highway 95 toward Natural Bridges National Monument. Follow Highway 95 for 14.3 miles and turn right into Comb Wash onto County Road 229. (A signpost is marked with 205. The turnoff is just past a road on the left that leads to a campground and lower Comb Wash.) There are a few primitive campsites on public land near the highway and some near the trailhead. Most everything else on both sides of the dirt road is private property.

Follow the dirt road for about 2.3 miles and turn to the left right before the road crosses the creek..

Continue past the private property signs toward the mouth of Arch Canyon and find a place to park. Make sure that you are past the private property fence before heading up toward Walnut Knob to avoid trespassing.

You might notice an occasional cairn as you climb out of the wash but there is no official trail. It's easy enough to see where you want to end up. All you have to do is decide how you want to go about it.

The riders on horseback make it easy enough to identify the newest images as Ute in origin. The obvious theme is hunting with elk, deer and bighorn sheep all depicted. There are also a pair of bear paws as well as a solitary bear paw. We thought that maybe the pair of paws represented hunting bears while the solitary one might be a clan symbol. One of the panels on a nearby boulder has an image of a buffalo. The Arch Canyon ruin, a short distance away, has several wet charcoal buffalo images.

This panel also has a hunting theme and includes what looks like a warrior carrying a shield. On the extreme lower right corner of the same boulder is a hissing snake, a bird (perhaps an eagle) and a dead man beneath an image of a circle with 4 lines extending out in opposite directions brining a compass to mind.

Not sure what the circles might represent on the heads of these men but the figure at the lower right looks like a dancer wearing wings of feathers on his arms.

One of the rocks has a nice museum of gray, monochrome and corrugated shards of pottery that are accompanied by a few specimens of chert.

Walnut Knob has the same religious feeling that some kivas possess. It's easy to imagine it as a place where men would have come to meditate and perhaps prepare themselves for hunting and maybe afterwards to give thanks for a successful hunt. While all archaeological sites should be treated with the utmost respect Walnut Knob seems to elicit something special.

On the return trip you might go a few yards out of your way to see the rubble pile ruins of a pueblo that overlooks the mouth of the canyon just above the wash. It appears to have had a number of separate rooms when it was standing and may have included a tower or kiva as one of the rooms may have been circular in shape.

There is an alternate route up to Walnut Knob that follows a jeep road that starts a little before you reach the Arch Canyon trailhead. After going up the road until you are near the same level as Walnut Knob it is probably not more than another hundred yards to the site.
Exploring the southwest can be like studying a history book that is being written in real time as each new site is visited even though the events that occurred at each place happened long ago. Walnut Knob is yet another page of that book. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.