Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sego Canyon Rock Art

The Sego Canyon Rock Art site is 4 miles north of Thompson Springs, along Interstate Highway 70 in southeast Utah. Thompson Springs is a few miles east of the junction of I-70 with Highway 191 that leads 30 miles south to Moab. Thompson Springs is a small town.

Follow the main road to the north edge where BLM signs point the rest of the way. The road is paved to the rock art site.

There are several interpretive signs at the site but in 2012 they are fading. The panel facing the parking area across a drainage is considered to have been done in historic times by the Utes. The figures include horses and riders, a white bison, large human figures, and large shields. 

The Utes practiced a hunting and gathering life style in western Colorado and eastern Utah until the 1880s when they were moved onto Reservations.

The next panel to the right is associated with the Fremont Culture that thrived from 600 to 1250 AD, the same time period as the Ancestral Pueblos of the Mesa Verde area. The red painted figures at the top are considered to be the oldest. The most eye catching are the larger pecked figures with trapezoidal bodies and heads and decorative collars. There are some mountain sheep and other animals and geometric images.

Standing back, the Fremont panel is at a right angle with a similar sized Barrier style panel. Comparing the two styles may be easier here than any other location that is easy to access. The Barrier style is attributed to the group known as Archaic. They were nomadic hunters and gatherers, living in this area from 8000 to 2000 years ago, until the introduction of corn agriculture.

This panel has at least 19 ghostly images. This panel is comparable to the Great Gallery in the Horseshoe Canyon Unit of Canyonlands National Park, the site that the Barrier style is named for.

The group in the middle is the most eye catching. They show the hollow eyes and antennae or horns that seem puzzling to us now.

They mostly seem to have their arms folded in front of their chests. This is probably the best rock art site in the Moab region that is easy to access.

Arch enthusiasts will notice the Sego Canyon Arch on the other side of the road directly across from the main rock art panels. It is a short walk up the drainage to get under the arch. Walking up the drainage, there are some old mining related bridge structures visible. There was mining activity in Sego Canyon and perhaps a ghost town to search for.

There are more rock art panels also across the road slightly north of the Sego Canyon Arch. 

These panels are somewhat less protected than the three main panels. I visited on an early May weekend day. There were three or four other vehicles present during my visit.

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