Pool Creek Petroglyphs

Round Trip Distance: 300 ft.
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5153 - 5161 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Echo Park Rd. MM 11
Fee: none
Attractions: Fremont petroglyphs

The Pool Creek Petroglyphs are located in the Echo Park area of Dinosaur National Monument north of Dinosaur, Colorado. The site displays at least several scores of Fremont figures wearing headdresses and necklaces that are arrayed across the face of a cliff like a pantheon of deities or geneology of ancestors. Information at the site dates the figures to roughly a thousand years ago.

Dinosaur National Monument straddles the Colorado-Utah border. The famous Quarry Site is on the Utah side north of Jensen while the area on the Colorado side is referred to as the Canyon Area. The main entrance to the Canyon Area is a couple miles east of Dinosaur, Colorado off of US-40. From the main entrance head north on the Harpers Corner Road for 25 miles to the turnoff to Echo Park. Echo Park is only accessible during the summer months and then according to park information only high clearance vehicles are recommended. We never noticed anything bigger than your fist to drive over so not sure about the high clearance recommendation but the road is very steep in several places where 4-wheel drive will keep you from spinning out. As you turn off of the Harpers Corner Road the pavement ends.

The Echo Park road immediately begins a very steep descent down a dugout. The descent continues through the very scenic Sand Canyon where the road is just wide enough for one vehicle at a time for several miles. Downhill traffic should back up until they find a spot to get out of the way of any uphill vehicles. As the road continues along Pool Creek for the last 5 miles to Echo Park the petroglyphs will be on the left a little before reaching Whispering Cave. The site is marked with a sign making easy to find. You can put 'Echo Park Campground' into your driving app for turn by turn directions but since there is no cellphone signal be sure to download the directions for offline access.

A kiosk mentions that the petroglyphs are all 35 feet above the wash and that when they were made there was something to stand on that has since washed away. Next to the kiosk is a site map that is indispensable in locating many of the less obvious images.

The typical figure includes a headdress, at least one necklace and sometimes a pattern in the belt or waist area.

The headdresses, belts and some of the necklaces are composed of a pattern of drilled dots while other necklaces like this one have smooth areas that were chiseled into the rock. The fact that most of the figures have necklaces makes it a little easier to spot them by looking for the tell-tale crescent pattern.

This ghostly looking image which is one of the few that has a full body including legs is covered with a dark patina.

Alternating streaks from where water has run down the face of the cliff over the last thousand years has faded some images while leaving others mostly untouched.

It must have taken a considerable effort to make some of these patterns of dots of various shapes and sizes.

Many of the faces appear to be wearing a mask with most having eye holes and some with holes for the mouth. This particular image takes advantage of a natural niche in the rock to make the face appear masked.

With the petroglyphs along Pool Creek being right next to the road the difficulty of access is more on the vehicle that has to navigate the 12 mile long road in both directions from the pavement to Echo Park than on the legs that are required to only walk a few hundred feet. The petroglyphs are so unique that they are well worth the time and effort to visit. Like letting your eyes get accustomed to the dark one needs to study the cliff and the map a good long while to notice all of its hidden treasures. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is make a long drive and then 'Take a hike'.