Zion's Rock Art: Petroglyphs and Pictograph
There are several petroglyphs sites in the park, but few are made public due to past, possible and future, vandalism. Treat ancient rock work as you would any work of art found in a museum. Look and admire, but never touch. Treat ancient rock work as you would any work of art found in a museum. Look and admire, but never touch. A simple touch damages ancient rock art. Don't camp, eat, or use the area as a bathroom. Again treat it as you would any indoor museum.
Sacrifice Rock or South Gate Petroglyph -
Petroglyphs Canyon - This side canyon located in Zion is now protected due to past vandalism. A ranger at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center must be consulted to visit the site. There is a kiosk sign at this site and the rangers will usually give directions to it.
Cave Valley Pictographs - There are two sites along the Kolob Terrace with rock art. Visitors use to be allowed to visit, but because some did not respect the site and take care of it, this rock art is now protected. You must ask at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center for directions, but it’s unlikely they will give them to this site anymore, since it is a remote area and the vandalism is recent.
Ancient Rock Art -Pre-Columbians, better known as ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi Indians) living in Zion long ago, left behind petroglyphs and cliff dwellings giving us insight into how they lived. Later Paiutes added to the prehistoric artifacts and art recording previous life here. There are two basic types of ancient rock art: petroglyphs and pictographs. Petroglyphs were carved into rock, often in soft sandstone and pictographs were painted using natural pigments. Due to the delicate nature of ancient paintings they are usually only found in caves or other areas where the art has been protected from the elements. There are a few pictographs in Zion that have been discovered. Included among the odd doodle-like designs are human figures (anthropomorphs) and animals figures (Zoomorphs). Evidence shows that the ancestral Puebloans had been in the area for about two-thousand years and the Paiutes had been around for about 800 years.
Pictographs and Petroglyphs -There are at least twenty-six known prehistoric sites with rock art, abandoned cliff houses, chipping sites or some other type of artifact in Zion today. In Clear Creek there is a site that is easy to get to, but angled, and up high, so it's difficult to see from the ground. Bo Beck saw it one day while hanging on a rope during SAR training. There are also remote sites in Spry Canyon and Mt. Kinesava that require scrambling up steep slickrock to see them. Parunuweap sites are well-known, but the protected ruins are off limits to all but research personnel, however there are wonderful pictograph sites located past the east side of Zion that are open to the public.
Zion Photo: Sacrifice Rock near Zion's Campgrounds and south entrance to the park.
Kokopelli - The Kokopelli, also called the Gray Flute, is one of the symbols found in Petroglyph Canyon and is a popular design found today throughout the Southwest. This anthropomorphic hunched back flute player is the Casanova of the Cliff Dwellers.
Virgin Anasazi - Much of the rock art in Zion is thought to have been created by the Virgin Anasazi. Evidence of their existence is usually found on river terraces along the Virgin River and its major tributaries such as in Parunuweap Canyon.
Zion National Park, Utah
History of the Thunderbird
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