Hidden Valley Petroglyphs II

Round Trip Distance: 5.7 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 4550 - 5124 feet
Cellphone: 2-5 bars
Time: 3 hrs.
Trailhead: Hidden Valley
Fee: none
Attractions: petroglyphs

This is the second group of two collections of petroglyphs that are located in the Hidden Valley and Moab Rim area of the Behind the Rocks Wilderness Study Area in Moab, Utah on the cliffs of adjacent canyons. This group sits on a bench above a short dead end canyon just to the north of the first group of petroglyphs. Due to the large number of petroglyphs involved we have separated them into two posts in order to provide a more complete description.

To get to the trailhead drive 2-3 miles south of Moab on Highway 191 and turn right on Angel Rock Road. Drive toward the mountain and turn right again on Rimrock Road to the trailhead. Alternatively you can enter 'Hidden Valley Trail Head' into your driving app and pick the one in Moab, Utah on Rim Rock Drive for turn-by-turn directions.

From the parking area the trail climbs steeply for about 7 tenths of a mile before entering Hidden Valley and leveling off. Near the 1.5 mile point from the trailhead the trail crosses a small hill that separates Hidden Valley into 2 sections. After another half mile or so the trail climbs up to a short pass where at the top a trail branches off immediately on the right that leads to the top of the Hidden Valley Petroglyphs I. If you haven't seen those petroglyphs yet the best option is to view them first and then continue on over into the next canyon to see the second site which will only add about a half mile or so to the total round trip distance. If you have already seen the first group of petroglyphs you can go directly to the second group by crossing straight over the pass and hiking down the next canyon.

As you hike down the canyon after going over the pass watch for a faint trail on the right that is about 4 tenths of a mile from the top of the pass. The trail heads over to the end of the long ridge of cliffs where the first group of petroglyphs comes to an end. The second group of petroglyphs is on the bench of the next ridge over that in this photo has a gap in the cliff. That ridge has 2 defensive ruins on its top with one being to the left of the gap and one to the right.

Continue around the point of the cliff where the first group of petroglyphs ends and begin hiking up the dead end canyon. Just before reaching a large spill over there will be a mound of dirt and talus piled up against the left side of the canyon. From the top of the mound you can scramble on up onto the bench without too much trouble. The alternative to getting onto the bench from within this short side canyon is to come at it from the end of the Moab Rim Connecting trail which for this post was our return route.

As soon as you reach the bench there will be a large panel of petroglyphs.

One of the highlights of this panel is a line of 14 kokopellis. The first figure that is leading the line is playing his flute. After the 14th kokopelli there is a gap followed by 2 more of the same. The number 14 is interesting as the first group of petroglyphs along the adjacent cliff had a line of 14 duck heads and a line of 14 bighorn sheep. Whether the counts are 14 by coincidence or whether they attached some significant meaning to that number in this case is something to contemplate.

Kokopellis are often referred to by some as the 'hunchback flute player' while others believe that rather than a hunched back the hump is a knapsack that carried the goods that kokopelli was trading from one group of people to the next. Looking closely at this photo you can see a kokopelli whose hump resembles a knapsack more than it does a hump. Of course, carrying a heavy pack for any length of time would likely lead to one having a hunch and making one look like a humpback.

Another interesting pair of images at this panel are a couple of men that are fighting with one another.

More petroglyphs are scattered on down the cliff. This panel has a figure holding a large shield and what looks like a two-headed figure holding another shield which might actually be 2 figures standing in profile behind one large shield judging from the direction that the legs and heads are pointed.

This panel has two interesting geometric patterns. Immediately to the left of the larger image is a man whose weapon extends to the back of the neck of a bighorn sheep. The length of the line seems to imply that the weapon was thrown a long distance rather than thrusted a short distance like those of the fighting men. Perhaps he's showing how far and effective he can sling a dart.

Here is a short line of bighorn leading up to a human like figure that is facing them as they approach. It might be that they were being chased by a dog, that is behind them, to where the hunter laid in wait. Dogs are well known to have been used in hunts just in this fashion.

This is another example of two men that appear to be fighting.

Right before the gap in the cliff there is a circular object that might be a shield with a lobe or head extending above it that has a border of short rays. The image has a faint outline of reddish paint and may have originally been a pictograph that was both red and white with a few other images pecked about.

From the bench where the petroglyphs are located you can't see the ruins that are all the way on top of the ridge. From the lower end of the ridge you can easily see the two ruins. One is on each side of the gap in the cliff. Each ruin looks like nothing more than a short defensive wall which idea closely follows that of the several examples of fighting men at both petroglyph sites. The lower ruin is the easiest to get to without any climbing gear by squeezing your way through a crack in the slickrock. You can also get a nice view of both ruins by switching to the Google Maps satellite view and zooming all the way in on the ridge.

Seeing both groups of petroglyphs together is of course the preferred way to go about it as it will come out to one hike of about 6.3 miles round trip. Getting up the side of the mountain to Hidden Valley is the only part that takes any real amount of effort. Hiking back down the same stretch can be tedious at times as care must be taken to find the best footing in places. The overall collection of petroglyphs at both sites is remarkable and the scenery is incredible by itself. All in all it is a very worthwhile way to spend the half day that it requires. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.