Da Vinci Panel

Round Trip Distance: 1.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 2338 - 2568 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: AZ Interstate 15 MM 22.2
Fee: none
Attractions: petroglyphs

The Da Vinci Panel is located off of Interstate 15 in the Virgin River Canyon between St. George, Utah and Littlefield, Arizona. The trail begins from a pullout along side of the interstate as it starts into the Virgin River Gorge. After leaving the roadside the trail crosses into the Beaver Dam Mountains Wilderness Area where it climbs over a nearby ridge to several rock art panels overlooking the Virgin River. The panel for which the trail gets its name has an image that is reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci's drawing the Vitruvian Man.

To get there from St. George drive west on Interstate 15 for about 12 miles and watch for a large pullout on the right that is a quarter mile or so after crossing the Virgin River. From the parking area follow the obvious trail toward the fence where you will need to get down to scoot under the bottom wire.

Once on the other side of the fence walk along it heading back toward the east.

After crossing the shoulder of the hill look for social trails on your left that cross over to a slide and climb up to the level of the ridge on the right.

There are a few petroglyphs scattered around on the rocks at the top of the ridge. After checking out whatever you can find continue over the ridge looking for a trail on your left. The idea is to not follow any trails that head straight down in the direction of the river.

You should be able to find a trail that starts out mostly level but eventually begins gradually angling down the side of the hill. Once you get on this trail you will start noticing a few cairns.

As you get mostly down the hill you will be able to see a large boulder sitting off by itself in the distance. This is Newspaper Rock. The Da Vinci Panel is to the right of that on a shelf that overlooks the river. The best thing is to head straight to Newspaper Rock first. From there it is easier to spot the route down to the Da Vinci Panel.

Newspaper Rock has a good assortment of images that we are guessing were made by either the Piute or their ancestors. Fainter images can be found below the main panel and on the side of the rock.

There are a couple of smaller rocks on the ledge above Newspaper Rock that also have petroglyphs. You can probably spot this one without leaving Newspaper Rock.

Just around the bend above the river is another large boulder that has an uninteresting inscription that dates only back to 1976 but there is a nice view up the river from that spot. The view might make you want to keep going and explore more in that direction which is always an option for those that have the time.

While walking back toward Newspaper Rock look for a route that slopes down toward the river. You only have to drop down to the next ledge to be on the same level as the Da Vinci Panel. A keen eye should be able to spot the panel from where you are standing. For reference, the part of the ridge at the skyline above the red circle in this photo is right where you hiked over to get here from the pullout.

 The panel is on a long slab of rock that is leaning up against the cliff.

The abstract likeness to the Vitruvian Man is obvious. Whether the image is actually a man with prodigious genitals or a woman birthing a child is another thing entirely.

The other images on the rock are probably all part of the same story and related in some fashion or other.

To get headed back to St. George all you have to do is continue into the Virgin River Gorge for a few more miles to the Cedar Pocket exit. If you are coming from the west and want to visit the Da Vinci Panel we recommend driving past it a couple miles to the Black Rock Road exit and turn around there. Interestingly, on the day we took the photos for this post, there were a couple of men being led by a local woman guide that had followed the same route to Newspaper Rock. I got a queer look when I mentioned the Da Vinci Panel giving the impression that the guide didn't know that it was there. We were under the impression that the panel was well known around St. George. For those that are traveling through the gorge it is well worth the stop. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.