Dean and I each have bucket lists...things we really want to do before we can't...whenever that is! Horseshoe Canyon Hike in Southern Utah has been on his for a couple of years now.
Access isn't easy...just off of Highway 24 near Goblin Valley you'll travel on a mostly graded dirt road for about 30 miles. The road is almost passable with a two-wheel drive vehicle depending on the road conditions, but Dean was real happy we were driving the Big Truck. You will most likely not pass a soul...well maybe a cow soul. That's it! You'll notice I used a lot of ambiguous words like mostly, almost, and most likely...that's exactly how this hike rolls.
7000-9000 B.C. Later inhabitants included the Desert Archaic culture, the Fremont culture, and Ancenstral Pueblo People. It is believed that the canyon was abandoned by Native American peoples by 1300 A.D.
But don't be fooled! Nearly the entire time you are sloshing and slumping through loose red sand, which makes 8 miles feel more like 12 when you are done.
The next site called Horseshoe Gallery is a little bit hidden as well. Look on the left...there is ancient man's best friend.
These vivid pictographs were probably our favorite. The art in Horseshoe Canyon is primarily pictograph...painted on the rock surface. Which is unlike petroglyphs that are carved into the rock.
Because paint is less durable than carving...pictographs are rarer since they are more likely to fade away under intense desert sun. Which makes the amazing images that remain on Horseshoe Canyon walls even more special. "Hunter shoot wild animals with big horns and tiny tail."
There is talk...that the artists who painted these pictographs might even be from another planet. I mean...I'm not saying this is an alien...but...!
We didn't miss this one because there was a giant cairn marking the location.
Alcove Gallery has incurred both natural and man-made damages to the site. Oil drillers and cowboys from the early 1900's carved their names into the wall next to the pictographs. And who knows what lies beneath some of the crumbled debris from the falling canyon walls
About another mile further, we found the treasure of this canyon...The Great Gallery. The most photographed and reproduced panel in the canyon. The Museum of Modern Art in New York even has a reproduction of this panel.
there are existing binoculars at the site chained to a log that you can borrow. Take that Mister Park Ranger.
The images are truly stunning. You have to wonder what it all means? Who put it here and how long ago? There are so many details you could study the panels for hours and still discover more.
Just don't forget to follow the cairns on the way in and out and remember your Jiggystick too!