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Moonflower Petroglyphs

Moab, Arches + La Sal Mountains, Utah

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Moonflower Petroglyphs

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  • The entrance to Moonflower Canyon petroglyphs.- Moonflower Petroglyphs
  • Moonflower Canyon's splendid sandstone and proud cottonwood trees.- Moonflower Petroglyphs
  • Rungs on the log ladder within the chimney. Climb these to experience an ancient escalator.- Moonflower Petroglyphs
  • Some of the Moonflower Canyon petroglyphs depict wildlife.- Moonflower Petroglyphs
  • Along with the animal images are those that are more human-like.- Moonflower Petroglyphs
  • This is the figure that resembles a Barrier Canyon Style image, a design that typically predates the style at Moonflower Canyon.- Moonflower Petroglyphs
  • The motivation and meaning of these etchings are unknown, so it is all up to your interpretation.- Moonflower Petroglyphs
  • An eponymous moonflower at the Moonflower Canyon petroglyphs.- Moonflower Petroglyphs
  • - Moonflower Petroglyphs
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Ancient landmark. Roadside access. Flowers.
Cons: 
Mosquitoes. Vandalism.
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Region:
Moab, Arches + La Sal Mountains, UT
Congestion: 
Moderate
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

The rock art at the mouth of Moonflower Canyon is one of the most easily viewable petroglyph panels near Moab. The figures etched into stone are thought to be about 2,000 years old. One of the drawings resembles an even older style of Native American expression known as the Barrier Canyon Style.

The pictures are placed on slightly overhanging dark red rock near the entrance to a canyon passageway. This is typical of many petroglyphs from the period. It is thought that the symbols may have somehow marked territory, guided travelers, or possibly communicated important cultural beliefs and customs. No one really knows what the ancient inhabitants of this land were saying with their artwork, but the legacy survives for us to admire and interpret today.

This site includes a sign that explains what little we know about the petroglyphs. Panels like this are not uncommon around Moab, but what makes this one really special is the log ladder to the left of the fenced-off area. Look up and into the rock chimney to find logs jammed into cracks, creating access to higher ground. Although this particular ladder is a more recent reconstruction, it is true to a technique that the natives would have used. You can climb the logs--carefully--to ascend about 25 feet to a ledge, and then scramble even higher if you dare. There are no actual petroglyphs up there, but one can imagine how the original inhabitants might have used these ladders to extend their domain across the craggy landscape of the canyonlands.

This particular panel at Moonflower Canyon has suffered from vandalism as successive visitors have added more modern etchings into the rock. Please refrain from further damaging this irreplaceable historical landmark. Do not touch the carved figures, as even the oil from your fingers can degrade their definition. Enjoy from a short distance, and try to wrap your head around the meaning of this strange smattering of ancient artwork.

Right next to the petroglyphs in Moonflower Canyon is a Bureau of Land Management campground with eight sites, toilets, and no running water; staying here is $10.00 per site per night. The location is on Kane Creek Boulevard on the banks the Colorado River, and there is easy access to Moab and Kane Creek Canyon.

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(8 within a 30 mile radius)

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