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Hike-in Required
No
Open Year-round
?
ADA accessible
No
Guided tours
No
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The Black Dragon Panel, located in central Utah, is a fantastically strange piece of Native American rock art that seems to depict a large flying creature of some sort. Done in the Barrier Canyon Style, this piece is considered unique even among the often unusual figures found from that era. Not far into the wash of the same name are very steep sandstone cliffs with black desert varnish cascading down on all sides. Just a 10-minute walk brings you to the panel that not only has the famed dragon but several of the more common "ascending" figures you see at places like the Great Gallery in Horseshoe Canyon, formerly known as Barrier Canyon. The large eyes of the figure on the left are reminiscent of the ones found in Sego Canyon. A completely different set of depictions also occur nearby and look more like a set of markings for a calendar or maybe a counting system. They are not anthropomorphic like Barrier Canyon Style usually is.

The Dragon has also been called a swan, and even a pterodactyl, but since none of those three are common in the area, the basis for the form is somewhat of a mystery. Regardless of what they were trying to paint, you can't deny how amazingly well preserved it still is. The mixtures of powdered minerals, charcoal, blood, iron oxide, plants, and some unknown but masterful bonding agent have remained clearly visible for millennia.

The Barrier Canyon Style is said to be at least 4,000 years old, and some sources even claim examples are up to 7,000 years old based on the clay figurines of similar styles found near the pictographs. Some new advances in technology that allow us to test non-organic material have led some scientists to declare they are much more recently made and closer to 2,000 years old at most.

All of the pieces of rock art in Black Dragon Wash are in the same small area and can be accessed directly by a high-clearance car. Lower clearance cars can just park at the mouth; you'll have a short walk to the panels. I saw some guys walking out who were BASE jumping from the cliffs, so that should give you an idea of how high the walls are.

When you pull off of I-70, simply head north through the gate that you'll need to open. Take the dirt roads that lead north and then northwest and it will bring you to the wash. There are a ton of BLM primitive camping sites with no facilities at the mouth of the wash. Most people are here to use all terrain vehicles.  Be sure to close the gate behind you when you leave the area.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Stunning and unique rock art. Primitive camping nearby. Easy in and out.

Cons

Remote.

Pets allowed

Allowed

Features

Geologically significant

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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