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Thread: Vernal Area Rock Art

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    Vernal Area Rock Art

    The Uinta Basin has been off my radar as far as rock art is concerned, despite being as long a drive north as I would normally drive south to places like Moab. My only experiences with the towns in the region were in passing as I drove to the Uinta Mountains. That changed on Sunday after Alan invited me to accompany him to McConkie Ranch near Vernal. The ranch is well-known for its "Classic Vernal Style" rock art left by the Fremont, and I think it's really cool of the owners to keep the place open to the public. We spent four hours there and I took almost 250 photos. There are many large and skillfully-made figures with headdresses, necklaces, and other decorations depicted.




    McConkie Ranch "Visitor Center"



    Antlers (and his & her restrooms)



    Interesting petroglyph/pictograph combo



    McConkie Ranch



    Lizards sunning themselves



    Large Vernal-style figure in half sun, half shadow



    Large figures with hoops



    Victim of rockfall



    Fallen petroglyph



    Headhunter on the right



    Thin, bright red figure



    Bigfoot



    Trail End



    Spotting rock art outside of McConkie Ranch



    Spiral, lines, and circle



    Chalked petroglyph and pictograph mix



    More mixed petroglyphs and pictographs



    Martini man



    Approaching the trail's end



    Three Kings panel (I'm not sure which three are kings?)



    Ladder along the trail





    I'd done a little research and compiled a list of other sites we could visit if we had time after McConkie Ranch. The first such site we hit is called the Peltier Site. It's just off a paved road and has been badly vandalized. Although the petroglyphs here weren't as incredible as those at McConkie, there were nice enough in their own right.




    Badly vandalized Peltier Site



    Rake and elk/deer





    Next we stopped at an unusual site near Steinaker Reservoir. It was a shallow alcove with a steeply slanted floor, and no running water in the immediate vicinity. It wouldn't have been used as a habitation site, but judging by the pictographs there somebody had spent a great deal of time in the alcove. Alan and I hiked around some nearby sandstone hills and canyons looking for more but didn't find much else.




    Steep approach to Steinaker Site #2



    Red headhunters



    Lizard and other pictographs



    View from Steinaker Site #2



    Steep floor of Steinaker Site #2





    We aimed for one final site along Ashley Creek. I'd planned to access it from the top but didn't know for certain whether there was a route from the top of the cliffs down to the rock art. From the end of a dirt road, we walked to the top of the cliffs and found several weaknesses that seemed as though they would allow us to descend. One spot required us to drop five or six vertical feet. After I dropped down but before Alan descended, I turned around and upclimbed the obstacle to make sure we could get back out before we both committed to it. We reached the rock art and weren't disappointed. The spicy descent was worth it. There were some large, well-made figures, but also some smaller and unique figures. To get up close to some of the rock art we had to climb and then walk along a narrow ledge. During the ascent back to Alan's truck we got a good workout. By then it was late enough that we needed to hit the road and head home. I'd had a great first taste of what the Vernal area had to offer. As is often the case, my post-trip research led not only to new places I can visit on my next trip there, but also things I was close to but missed on this trip.




    Cliffs above Ashley Creek



    Sketchy downclimb to the Ashley Creek Site



    Large petroglyph panel at the Ashley Creek Site



    Left side



    Right side



    Concentric circle, sheep, and upside-down anthropomorph



    Unusual horns



    Handprint petroglyphs



    Large figures at the Ashley Creek Site



    Ledge-walking



    Steep climb out of Ashley Creek





    Photo Gallery: Vernal Area Rock Art
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