Sheep Canyon Pictographs

Round Trip Distance: 1.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 6163 - 6250 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 1 hr. 30 mins.
Trailhead: MM 29.9
Fee: none
Attractions: pictographs, petroglyphs

Sheep Canyon is a located in the Nine Mile Canyon area northeast of Wellington, Utah. Known as the longest gallery of rock art in the world, that began with Archaic people 8,000 years ago and Fremont 2,500 years ago, Nine Mile Canyon is a real treasure to explore. A short hike into one of its tributaries, known as Sheep Canyon, along an abandoned 4WD road leads to a mostly well preserved pictograph panel along with several more panels of both Fremont, Ute and perhaps Archaic petroglyphs.

To get there from Wellington turn north at the Chevron station on to the Nine Mile Canyon Road and follow the signs for 30.5 miles. You can also enter 'The Great Hunt Panel' into your driving app for turn by turn directions. As there is no cellphone service within the deep walled canyon be sure to download the directions for offline use.

As the road goes around a right hand bend look for a turnoff on the right that leads into a pasture. Be sure to park in the bar ditch where it is nice and smooth so as not to block entry into the pasture.

The old 4WD, or well road, is very faint but the object to aim for is the mouth of the canyon to the right.

Pick a spot where it is easy to get down into and out of the wash to cross the creek. There is a large cottonwood tree fell across the creek just to the left of the spot in this photo that might be handy depending upon the current flow.

As the old road enters the canyon it becomes much easier to follow.

After passing a green gate it is only another hundred yards or two to the pictographs. Nestled beneath an overhang the pictographs show up quite well from a distance making them easy to spot and not likely to be missed.

The four main images stand out and, at first, tend to grab all the eyes attention. To the upper right there is another faded ghostly image within a white or yellow box. The main images have uplifted hands while the arms of the ghostly image are downward pointing. Whether that indicates that it is a dead ancestor we are sadly unqualified to do more than take notice.

A few interesting details, like the pinkish looking necklace on the wider figure, are still observable. Note the taller figure with its horizontal lines has a thick red border of a different hue on one side and a white border on the other.

There are a good number of petroglyphs on the surface below the main panel as well as a few other faded pictographs. Exploring further down the same side of the canyon a short distance leads to this panel of Ute petroglyphs, assumed due to the presence of the 3 figures on horseback.

A few other interesting images that are accompanied by an 1818 inscription are also nearby. Please remember that while in the past some may have been ignorant of causing damage to these ancient sites, besides being morally wrong, it is illegal to do anything that causes the least harm to any archeological site including leaving your own marks, touching the images or the area around them or even digging in the area.

There are restrooms at the day use picnic areas at each end of Nine Mile Canyon but camping within the canyon is prohibited. The privately owned Nine Mile Canyon Ranch (435-637-2572) is the only campground and it is on the west end of the canyon a little before reaching the First Site. It is easy to spend a full day visiting just the major roadside attractions within the canyon. For those that have a little more time the short hike into Sheep Canyon should prove well worth the effort. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.