"The Great Gallery"
April 2011, Horseshoe Canyon, Canyonlands National Park, Utah
The Great Gallery is in a VERY remote area of Canyonlands National Park known as Horseshoe Canyon. Horseshoe Canyon contains some of the finest rock art on earth, but the crown jewel without a doubt is the Great Gallery pictured here. Indian rock art is either etched into the rock (a petroglyph) or painted on the rock (a pictograph). The Great Gallery is a massive 200 foot wide panel of life-sized pictographs, the largest of which is over 7 feet tall. More impressive still is the fact that archaeologists believe the paintings are about 4000 years old. The panel is approximately 20' above the canyon floor. Perhaps the canyon floor has been eroded 20' with 4000 years of flash floods to contend with.
The amazing condition of the panel is no doubt due to the remote location of Horseshoe Canyon. From Moab I had to drive 1-1/2 hours to literally the middle of nowhere. At this point a sign directed me onto a dirt road heading due east for 32 miles to the trailhead at Horseshoe Canyon. This took another hour. Then I began my hike 780 feet down into the canyon. Three and a half miles later I reached the Great Gallery (another 2 hours). All told it took me 4-1/2 hours just to reach the panel, but it was so worth it. The only problem is the hike back out is uphill for 780 feet, and by then I was getting pretty tired.
An interesting side note to Horseshoe Canyon is that it is the canyon which Aaron Ralston hiked out of to safety after his now infamous ordeal in nearby Blue John Canyon. Aaron, who was hiking alone, ended up getting his right arm stuck under an 800 lb boulder. After 5 days he amputated his arm and was found by a family as he was hiking through Horseshoe Canyon.
Horseshoe CanyonThe Great GalleryUtahpictographsrock artancient