Atomic Rock

Round Trip Distance: 350 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5992 - 6002 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 15 mins.
Trailhead: UT-95 MM 80.8
Fee: none
Attractions: petroglyphs

Atomic Rock is a large boulder that is located on the outskirts of the Natural Bridges National Monument west of Blanding, Utah. Petroglyphs decorate each side of the boulder including its upper sloping surfaces. The various images appear to have been etched over a long period of time as though the boulder was either an annual gathering place or along a migratory route.

From just south of Blanding follow UT-95 for about 40.5 miles to a pullout on the right. The pullout is probably less than a quarter of a mile past milepost 81.

Look for a faint social trail that heads south from the parking area. Atomic Rock is only about 150 feet away. In this photo it is mostly hidden by a tree.

As you approach closer some of the petroglyphs begin to become visible.

There are many faint images that are obscured by new layers of patina.

These images might be of 2 men fighting. The one on the right appears to be holding a small shield or target in one hand and a knife in the other.

This is one of the anthropomorphic images on the east facing side of the rock. Notice the bird fingers and maybe duck feet.

Images of snakes and bear paws are prevalent with the snake images looking to be the newest.

Here is a case where lichens are growing over some of the images. Petroglyphs seem to have many different forces working toward their extinction e.g lichens, weathering, rocks peeling, falling and breaking... While natural forces are hard to mitigate the most irksome damage without a question comes from vandalism. Be sure not to touch the images or the rock around them.

In this final photo it can be seen how close we parked to the highway. The path to Atomic Rock began right behind our truck so its plain to see that it is easy to get to if you happen to be driving past. Anyone going to the Red Bear Panel or the Remnant Ruins from this trailhead will naturally also want to include a glance at Atomic Rock. It's a head scratcher for us how the boulder earned that monaker. The scanned topo and our GPS map show the rocks location to be several hundred yards to the south of this spot. It doesn't really look like it has been moved so apparently the marker was originally mismapped. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.