Cottonwood Spring Petroglyphs

Round Trip Distance: 0.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 4349 - 4369 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 45 mins.
Trailhead: Cottonwood Springs
Fee: none
Attractions: petroglyphs

Cottonwood Spring is located in the San Rafael Desert near Hanksville, Utah. Several petroglyph panels can be found on a nearby cliff that include a mix of Barrier Canyon and Fremont style images. A few shards of pottery and flakes of chert left from making arrowheads litter the ground in places in front of the cliff.

An OHV or 4wd vehicle is recommended to get to the trailhead. We never actually had to put our truck into 4wd but there were a couple of short sand bogs that could have required it. The turnoff is on the east side of UT-24 about 14.5 miles south of Interstate 70 or 29 miles north of Hanksville, Utah. 

Continue straight at the 1 mile point from the highway. The map shows a 4wd road going to the right at this point and doesn't show the road to the left at all. 

Continue straight once again near the 4 mile point. 

Stay to the left at the next junction where the Cottonwood Wash Road comes in on the right. The Cottonwood Wash Road could be used as an alternate route in and out of the area. 

Right before the road crosses Cottonwood Wash turn right onto a less traveled 4wd road with the goal of ending up at the mouth of the wash a little more than a quarter mile away. You will pass an old corral a little before reaching the trailhead which is a turnaround spot next to a barbwire fence. We call the last stretch a 4wd road but it isn't very rough and if you made it this far you have nothing to worry about.

After parking find your way around the point of the cliff where you will find petroglyphs all along its surface. 

Many of the images are faded but the majority can be seen well enough to tell what they are. They are so tightly packed in places that the hardest part is separating each image from the others. As you can see some images are overlaid by others. 

A good number of Barrier Canyon Style images can be found in the mix. 

We are guessing that these geometric patterns are probably also Barrier Canyon. 

There are a lot of bighorn sheep in this panel but the image to the right of the circles looks like a buffalo. 

A hole pounded into the cliff was probably used to hold one end of a log that was part of the roof of a structure that was once built right up against the cliff.

It tooks us about 45 minutes to drive from the highway to the trailhead. That included stopping to take a few pictures along the way and stopping at each intersection long enough to decide which way we wanted to go. We had the spring marked in our GPS but it didn't help much until we got down to the last mile. If we would also have had the road marked in our GPS then it would have been pretty straight forward. The GPS track included with this post includes the road and waypoints for the turnoff, trailhead and petroglyphs. The Cottonwood Spring petroglyphs are well worth checking out if you can just figure out how to get there. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.