Pleasant Creek Rock Art

Round Trip Distance: 2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5832 - 5885 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Pleasant Creek
Fee: $20
Attractions: petroglyphs, pictographs

The Pleasant Creek Rock Art Site is located in the Capitol Reef National Park near Torrey, Utah. The site includes a large number of Fremont style petroglyphs that are enclosed by a pole fence. About 100 feet east of the main panels are several more large panels that sit higher up above the creek on a hill. Across the creek on the south side of the canyon there is also a pretty good panel of pictographs.

To get to the trailhead drive south from the Capitol Reef National Park Visitor Center for 7.8 miles and turn right onto the Pleasant Creek Road where the road surface transitions from pavement to dirt.

Continue for another 2.8 miles to the trailhead. The road is normally passable by 2wd highway vehicles during good weather. Currently there isn't a sign at the trailhead but there is a restroom. The trailhead is located right before crossing the creek where the road becomes 4wd only. The trail starts out on the east side of the parking area where it passes a brown carsonite 'No Camping' marker.

As the trail heads up the canyon it travels along the north side of Pleasant Creek.

An early departure from the main trail leads up to the Elliot Bird inscription.

When the trail arrives at the main panels there is a kiosk with some good information about the site. Access isn't permitted within the fenced area so bring a zoom lens for close up photos. We received an email from one gentleman that ignored the signs saying to stay out that discovered there was a hidden camera filming him once he crossed the fence.

The images are a mixture of mostly petroglyphs with a few pictographs, or painted images, mixed in. Most of the images are very easy to see but we outlined them on our computer to make them stand out. The images around the painted target that is higher up on the cliff are a little fainter but with binoculars or a zoom lens there are some very interesting details to notice, such as, the fine white necklace on the red painted image to the right of the target.

After spending a little time looking at the images some like this will become more noticable. At first it blends in with all the other lines and pot marks on the cliff as though hiding in plain site.

 There are some interesting headdresses that were originally at least partially painted. Bear tracks, some of which may have been clan symbols, are a common image on the cliff face and a few of the boulders.

A couple of grinding stones can be spotted within the closed area. Most people will probably also notice a boulder with a handful of sharpening grooves that were ground into the rock as various tools and weapons were honed for use.

Across the canyon from the main panels there are some interesting pictographs on a cliff below an overhang. This panel appeared to be rarely visited.

Up on a little hill of sluff just east of the main panels are several more panels of petroglyphs where you can take closer photos. Be sure not to touch the rock as oil from your skin will dissolve the patina and even the sandstone itself.

 Besides a large image of an elk there are several lines of bighorn sheep. Part of the imagery of the elk being on the hill to the east of the panel might be that the hills to the east of this location are what we call the Henry Mountains and that is where they probably went to hunt. As it was customary to take advantage of naturally occurring seams and such in the rock to add to the imagery the pot marks in the sandstone where the image of the elk was pecked onto the face of the cliff also bring to mind the mountain peaks and valleys.

Pleasant Creek is a good location to see scores of rock art images all within a small area. Mixed in with the images are quite a few inscriptions from settlers and others that travelled through the canyon over the years. Some of them were unfortunately scratched right over top of the original rock art. At the base of one of the other panels on top of the hill are a couple of obvious gringo images. One of them is of a smiling crescent moon. Those images are newer looking and easy to spot and down out of the way of the rest of the panels. For those that happen to be visiting Capitol Reef National Park the excursion to Pleasant Creek is worth taking the time for and it is even one of the easier hikes in the park. If you would like to see it for yourself all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.