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Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Friday, March 16, 2007

Easy Hike to View Mysterious Rochester Rock Art

Rochester Rock ArtI'm fascinated by rock art created by ancient Native American cultures. I seek it out as I travel. Finding and viewing rock art has become an enjoyable hobby.

Yesterday afternoon I made a special trip just to visit and photograph the Rochester Creek rock art site, and a smaller site a few miles away. It was a great outing, very enjoyable. The images are spectacular and I'm glad I have them in my collection.

Virtually every inch of one huge rock face is covered with strange figures: humanoids, monsters, gods, animals - who knows what the artists intended for the figures to represent. An arch or rainbow decorates the main panel. Or is more than mere decoration? Perhaps it is there to shelter and protect the humanoids, which are surrounded by dragons and wolves and snakes.

Rochester Rock ArtOur weather has been gorgeous the past couple weeks and I've had a hard time staying in the office. On Wednesday, while fidgeting at my desk, I hatched an escape plan. I had a buddy call and invite me to go on a rock art hunting excursion on the edge of the San Rafael Swell, south of Price. The ploy worked – my boss approved and so I grabbed my camera and disappeared into the desert.

I met my friend in Castle Dale, visited for a few minutes and then headed for Rochester Creek.

The panel is located on top of a ridge overlooking the junction of Rochester and Muddy creeks, near the town of Emery, 50 miles south of Price. It is easy to find. From Emery drive north on Hwy 10 for about 3.5 miles, to the signed, paved road that heads east to Moore. Turn east onto that road and follow it for about .5 miles to a gravel road that leads to the trailhead. The gravel road is signed and easy to find. Follow the gravel road for about 4 miles to the trailhead parking area.

A well-defined trail leads down the canyon and then along a ridge to the panel. You've got to hike about 1 mile (round trip) to see the art.

Rochester Rock ArtThe panels contain images that have been carved by a variety of cultures, over centuries, but the dominant figures are attributed to the Fremont people.

A few miles east along the Moore Cutoff road you can see more figures, on boulders along the north side of the road where it cuts through the Molen Reef. The Moore Cutoff becomes gravel at an intersection in the community of Moore. From that intersection follow the Cutoff road east for about 4 miles until it cuts through the Reef. On the east side of the Reef you will find an obvious parking area. From that parking area you can see the main rock art panel.

Inspect other boulders in that area and you'll find more rock art figures. Two rocks have very prominent snake figures.

You need to linger for a few minutes at rock art sites, soaking in the scenery. I find that I see more and more detail, the longer I sit quietly and gaze at the images. Rock art isn't something you can grasp in a hurry.

It’s worth seeking. The Rochester site is certainly worth two hours, if you are driving Hwy 10.

Here's more info on rock art.

- Dave Webb

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