Quitchupah Creek

Round Trip Distance: 1 mile
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 6291 - 6408 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 3 hrs.
Trailhead: Quitchupah Creek
Fee: none
Attractions: Extensive rock art

The Quitchupah Creek Rock Art Site is located about 4 miles south of Emery, Utah at the confluence of Quitchupah Creek and the North Fork of Quitchupah Creek. The site has more than 2 dozen panels of both petroglyphs and pictographs that include Barrier Canyon, Fremont and Ute images. There are so many images that you can see transitions from one style to the next. We pronounce Quitchupah as 'quit-choo-paw'. That pronunciation might not be accurate but we really like saying quit-choo-paw. The only meaning that we could find for it had to do with grass growing along a creek or possibly 'Grass Creek'.

From Interstate 70 take Exit 91 and head north on UT-10 for 8.3 miles and turn left. If coming from the north the turnoff is right at 4 miles south of Emery. There is a 'Dead End' sign but if you are in a 4wd that isn't technically the case. The road is generally passable by 2wd vehicles but due to an area that can have deep dust a 4wd is recommended. We went through it just fine in our Tundra without shifting into 4wd. There is also a shallow gulch that comes up a little before reaching the rock art where 4wd and a little more ground clearance might be needed. Much of the road is adobe clay and should be avoided by even 4wd vehicles if it is very wet. There is a gate at the 2 mile point and another one around 3.8? miles.

Hopefully this overhead satellite view will help in finding all the rock art. Right around the 4.2 mile point from UT-10 the road goes up a little hill at the point of a cliff. On the right there is a power pole and on the left there is a wooden pole fence. There are a few pictographs along the cliff below the fence on the left hand side of the road. High up on the cliff on the right hand side of the road is a classic Fremont panel that is somewhat faded but worth finding. The rest of the pictographs and petroglyphs are strung out on both sides of the cliffs about another quarter mile up the road. There is also a solar calendar site on the west side of the creek.

We can only show a few of the more than 800 photos that we took so here are some of the more interesting ones.

The image above the waving hands that looks similar to a chevron has white paint between the red lines. There was quite a bit of white paint used on various panels but it seems to fade more than the red and is harder to make out. If you look close at some of the petroglyphs you can see that some of them were also painted originally.

These images are beneath an overhang on the back side of the cliff from the previous photo.

It's too bad that W. Beebe back in 1903 couldn't have found a better place to leave his mark. The images layered upon this cliff appear to range from the Archaic to the early Ute period. That looks like a buffalo in the middle along the bottom.

A few of the images resemble the Barrier Canyon Style and are so old that they barely show up through all the patina that has built up over the years.

The eyes and designs upon the torsos can still be seen on these images.

This large panel appears to have a few early Ute images, several of which are almost identical to ones found elsewhere like in Dominguez Canyon.

This panel with a couple of carrot men images appears to be much older. It also has one image on the middle left that looks similar to the 'duck head' anthropomorphs in southern Utah around Bluff and Cedar Mesa.

One the west side of the creek there is an outcrop with what we believe may have been a calendar site. It has 2 circles beneath overhangs and 4 figures that appear to be holding shields. The circle under the overhang on the right has a solid circle that is surrounded by 4 white circles that have a black outline. One would have to be at the site at the solstices and equinoxes to confirm that it is a calendar. Places like Quitchupah Creek that have such an extensive number of panels were often ceremonial sites and sometimes have a calendar associated with them.

We spent 3 hours taking photos at Quitchupah Creek. We actually hiked about 2.5 miles going back and forth to the same panels taking photos with different lenses. It would be nice to explore further up the creek along the main branch and also up the north fork. One would think there would be some pithouses and granaries somewhere in the area. Exploring pretty much anywhere that has a good spring or stream is guaranteed to produce some sort of rock art or shelter. The road leading into Quitchupah Creek isn't the greatest so it doesn't see a large number of visitors. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.