Moonlight Panel

Round Trip Distance: 0.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 5928 - 5976 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: UT-211 mm 5.1
Fee: none
Attractions: petroglyphs

The Moonlight Panel is located in the Indian Creek Recreation Area of the Bears Ears National Monument northwest of Monticello, Utah. The main panel, for which the site appears to get its name, and other smaller groups of images total more than 50 petroglyphs that are interesting in both style and vague meaning. Situated very close to the road the crisp looking images are very easy to review closely other than one image that sits off to the side by itself.

The site is close to what would be mile marker 5.1 of UT-211 which is about 1.6 miles north of the Newspaper Rock National Historic Site. The one thing lacking close to the site is a good pullout or designated parking place so you might need to walk along the road from the closest one that you can find.

The first image is the one that sits off by itself a couple hundred feet to the left of the main panel. The image can be seen from the highway but it takes a little scrambling to see it up close.

The main panel is about 200 feet south of the lone image where it is easy enough to get up to the little bench that runs along the base of the cliff.

Many of the images form their own small groups that seem to convey their own separate message.

The trapezoidal body shapes appear to be limbless versions of the Fremont Style of petroglyphs that are mixed in with others of the Basketmaker Style. 

An apparent crescent moon.

We are supposing that this is the one for which the site is named.

The belted 'man within a man' floats in a circle of dots, perhaps representing stars, while a kokopelli pipes music with his flute, perhaps conjuring up the image in the minds of his listeners, or paying tribute to some god or idea, as he plays his airy tune.

A coiled snake, a snake with a head at both ends and other images including a single atlatl.

An interesting tall armless figure whose body and head were painstakingly filled with marks that might represent feathers, hair or fur. It doesn't have bird feet so maybe not feathers.

 Here is one to think about. There is a tall anthropomorphic image that is definitely pointing a bow and arrow. If you zoom in you can see the bowstring as plain as day. He's pointing it at an animal that is running for its life but he is standing on another, hard to make out image, that in this context you would assume to be a horse. We were wondering if someone was recreating here something that they had not seen before which was someone hunting on horseback with a bow and arrow. There is a panel of teepees and a few images of horses not too far away along Indian Creek so maybe this small panel is a transition from the times of atlatls to that of the bow and arrow.

These images are high overhead as though they are meant to be a couple of figures that are in the starry sky above the mountains. Figures with arms bent down are sometimes said to represent dead ancestors. Sort of a heaven concept maybe. You have to look up to see them. It's interesting that people are buried in the ground but remembered as though they have flown to the sky.

There are other images that are in the slideshow that are well worth seeing besides those that we pointed out in this post. As you can see we pulled off out of the way into the bar ditch. It was early spring time when we made this visit and there was very little traffic on UT-211. The Moonlight Panel is 1 of 10 sites that we have posted so far along this short stretch of Indian Creek. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.