Step Back In Time: 11 Most Spectacular Ancient Art Sites In Utah

That state of Utah offers some of the most beautiful scenery in all of the US.

From the state’s most unique rock formations to incredible desert, mountain, red rock and river views…Utah’s natural beauty is hard to match.

But hidden among all of this natural beauty is beauty of a different kind – ancient art from our ancestors long, long ago.

From petroglyphs that tell stories of life for the tribes that lived in Utah thousands of years ago to actual dinosaur tracks from millions of years ago, the ancient art in this state is plentiful.

Let’s have a look at the 11 best ancient art sites in Utah, along with photos and details of what you can expect to see at each.

Dinosaur National Monument Petroglyphs, Dinosaur Prints & Fossils

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Located on the border of Utah and Colorado, Dinosaur National Monument offers more than just its name suggests. 

While it is famed for the remarkable array of dinosaur fossils embedded in the rock, visitors can also explore petroglyphs carved by ancient peoples. 

The site beautifully melds natural history with human artistry, offering a unique glimpse into the past. 

Here, you’ll find an interactive quarry exhibiting Jurassic-era fossils and ancient rock art that speaks volumes of the region’s prehistoric inhabitants.

Potash Road Petroglyphs

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Potash Road, near Moab, Utah, is a scenic byway that doubles as a gallery of ancient art. 

As you drive along the Colorado River, the roadside cliffs reveal petroglyph panels created by Native American cultures. 

These rock carvings, some dating back over a thousand years, depict animals, human figures, and abstract designs, offering insight into the lives of the region’s early inhabitants. 

This accessible route provides an excellent opportunity to witness the connection between culture and nature.

Parowan Gap Petroglyphs

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Nestled in the western desert of Utah, the Parowan Gap is a natural passageway through the Red Hills that serves as a significant cultural and archaeological site. 

The Gap houses a vast collection of petroglyphs, some of which are believed to function as a prehistoric calendar system. 

The intricate carvings include geometric shapes, celestial bodies, and animal figures, reflecting the deep spiritual and astronomical knowledge of the ancient peoples who created them.

Nine Mile Canyon Petroglyphs

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Dubbed “the world’s longest art gallery,” Nine Mile Canyon, located in central Utah, is a treasure trove of ancient rock art. 

The canyon walls are adorned with tens of thousands of petroglyphs and pictographs left by the Fremont people over a thousand years ago. 

The imagery ranges from hunting scenes to intricate anthropomorphic figures, offering a vivid window into the past. 

The well-preserved art, alongside historic homesteads and natural beauty, makes it a must-visit for history buffs and nature lovers alike.

Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs

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Located in the Indian Creek area near Monticello, Newspaper Rock is a historic monument that features one of the largest and best-preserved collections of petroglyphs in the Southwest. 

The rock face, covered in hundreds of petroglyphs, tells a story that spans over 2,000 years. 

The dense array of symbols includes depictions of animals, humans, and abstract shapes, serving as an ancient newspaper that recorded the activities and beliefs of the area’s early inhabitants.

Kodachrome Basin State Park Handprints

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Kodachrome Basin State Park, famed for its colorful rock formations and spires, also hosts a lesser-known gem – ancient handprints. 

Located near the park’s entrance, these handprints provide a tangible connection to the people who once roamed this stunning landscape. 

Alongside the natural beauty of the park’s geological features, these handprints add a human element, reminding visitors of the area’s long history of habitation and the legacy of its ancient cultures.

Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel

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The Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel, located in the San Rafael Swell in central Utah, is a remarkable display of ancient rock art. 

Dating back over 2,000 years, the panel features life-sized figures painted with a natural red pigment, showcasing the artistic skill and spiritual depth of the Barrier Canyon people. 

The detailed depictions of anthropomorphic figures and animals highlight the cultural and religious life of these ancient artists.

Fremont Indian State Park Petroglyphs

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Situated in Sevier County, Fremont Indian State Park preserves the largest known collection of Fremont culture artifacts and rock art. 

The park was created after the discovery of the artifacts during a highway construction project. 

Visitors can explore over a dozen trails leading to rock art panels, pit houses, and granaries. 

The park’s museum also offers insights into the lives of the Fremont people through displays of pottery, arrowheads, and other cultural artifacts.

Navajo Moenave Dinosaur Tracks

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In the vicinity of Tuba City, the Navajo Moenave Dinosaur Tracks offer a fascinating glimpse into the prehistoric world. 

This site is unique for its well-preserved dinosaur tracks believed to be over 200 million years old. 

Visitors can take guided tours led by Navajo guides, who provide insights into both the dinosaur tracks and the cultural significance of the area to the Navajo people. 

It’s a rare opportunity to walk literally in the footsteps of dinosaurs.

Dry Fork Canyon Petroglyphs

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Dry Fork Canyon, located near Vernal, Utah, is home to several significant petroglyph sites, including the famous McConkie Ranch Petroglyphs. 

The rock art here, created by the Fremont people, features a variety of designs including anthropomorphic figures, animals, and abstract symbols. 

The depth and preservation of the art, set against the backdrop of the canyon’s natural beauty, make Dry Fork Canyon a captivating destination for anyone interested in ancient cultures and rock art.

Arches National Park Petroglyphs

Credit: Robin Panzer

While Arches National Park is world-renowned for its stunning natural arches and breathtaking landscapes, it also holds cultural treasures in the form of petroglyphs. 

The ancient rock art, created by the Ute and Paiute tribes hundreds of years ago, can be found in various locations throughout the park. 

These petroglyphs offer a glimpse into the life and beliefs of the park’s early inhabitants, adding a layer of historical depth to the awe-inspiring geological features.