Visitors 16
Modified 30-Sep-12
Created 29-Sep-12
36 photos

We visited Needles and Island in the Sky areas of Canyonlands NP in SE Utah in 2011, but regretted that we did not have the time to visit Horseshoe Canyon. This is a detached unit of Canyonlands National Park. Though it is 25 miles as the raven flies to the Needles or Maze units of the Park, it is at least 120 miles one way by road from Moab. In 2012, we visited the Grand Canyon and then the SW areas of Utah (Capitol Reef, Bryce, Zion, etc), so we took the opportunity to "swing by" Horseshoe Canyon. The first hurdle is a 30 mile drive on barely maintained dirt road across the San Rafael desert. Four wheel drive is suggested but not as mandatory as high clearance! Once you get to the trailhead it is a 7 mile round-trip hike down into the canyon, and along Barrier Creek to the Great Gallery. Bring your lunch and plenty of water and be ready for a long slog along a sandy wash (normally dry creek bed). The reward is among the most important and spectacular collection of early pictographs in the Southwest; and there is simply nothing else like it! The oldest have been dated to over 3000 years old. They are in the so-called Barrier Canyon Style, after the old name for this canyon. There are four groups of panels, culminating in the Grand Gallery with its famous tall and eerie anthropomorphic figures, including the one known as the White Ghost. Some observers have suggested that these are representations of alien visitors, but they are more likely to be images of shamans. Interspersed among the anthropomorphs are small birds and animals. One anthropomorph has birdlike figures on its shoulders.
Down the trail into Horseshoe CanyonSandstone slickrock mound.At the bottom of the Canyon.In Barrier Creek, sand slope slog on left.First pictograph panelDetail of first panel.  Note later art pecked on bottom part of panel.Second panel, on opposite of canyon from first panel.Second pictograph panel with dog.Second panel, left side.Second panel, right side.Along the dry wash.Shady spot next to Canyon wall.Barrier Creek wash.Canyon wall sandstone formationsThird panel in canyon alcove: artistically cruder than others.A detail of figure on third panel.Detail of third panelHorned figure and handprints on third panelIn the merciful shade of the east canyon wall.The main attraction: The Grand Gallery.

Categories & Keywords
Category:Travel and Places
Subcategory:North America
Subcategory Detail:United States of America
Keywords:Barrier Canyon Style, Canyonlands National Park, Horseshoe Canyon, Utah, White Ghost, petroglyphs, pictographs, rock art