Circle of Life

Round Trip Distance: 0.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 6223 - 6291 feet
Cellphone: 1-4 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Old Escalante Rd. MM 1.6
Fee: none
Attractions: rock art

The Circle of Life, aka Circle of Friends, pictographs can be found about 5 and a half miles west of Escalante, Utah along the Old Escalante Road. Central to the panel are a number of figures that represent people of various ages joining hands in a circle and probably dancing to the music of a nearby flute player. The site, which contains both petroglyphs and pictographs, is very easy to find with the aid of some easy to follow directions.

To get there drive west out of Escalante on UT-12 for just under 4 miles and turn right about a quarter mile after passing mile marker 55. Reset your odometer as you leave the highway.

After turning off of the highway the wide gravel road crosses a bridge that spans the Escalante River where there are a couple of very scenic cascading waterfalls. On the opposite side of the river there are 2 roads that split off on the right. The first is the driveway for the Slot Canyon Inn and the second leads to Barkers Campground. Stay on the main road that heads straight toward Widstoe Junction.

Near the 1.6 mile point from the highway there is a small pullout on the right with an obvious social trail leading away from the road.

Take heart in knowing that the panel is only a few hundred yards away on a boulder and only requires about 68 feet of elevation gain. In fact, if you know where the boulder is you can spot it and the images from the road a little before you reach the pullout.

The trail leading up to the site is a little primitive in nature but easy to follow and suitable for families with small children given a little assistance. Just be sure to educate them beforehand not to touch the images or do anything to cause them damage.

Most of the images still show up quite well. If you arrive in the morning on a cloudless day the images will be bathed in direct sunlight.

The dancing figures are surrounded by dots that represent water. Just above the flute player is a handprint with a hollow palm representing life. On the right is a shaman that is using his staff to send a bolt of lightening into the sky to release the life giving rain.

A little further to the right of the circle is a rainbow that expands upon the theme of the main panel.

The boulder has more images like this Fremont style figure that are a bit more faded and less obvious. Perhaps they date to an earlier time than the main panel and have had to endure more of the elements.

Petroglyphs of concentric circles a bighorn sheep and a wide line of pecked dots that probably represents a stream of water can also be found upon the boulder.

The circle of dancers can be seen on a kiosk that is a little further west on UT-12 at the Granary in the Cliffs scenic pullout. We have had requests for the Circle of Life, or Circle of Friends, site from others that have searched for it in vain. We were able to locate it using a photo of the cliffs above the road that gave us the direction of sun exposure and subsequently let us know which side of the canyon to look. After that we simply drove along until we found the obvious trail leading away from the road. It was common knowledge that the site was just west of Escalante before entering the canyon. The Circle of Life panel is well worth visiting and while you are there you can draw your own conclusions of what the images represent. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.