Visitors can enjoy unique attractions at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and Colorado. While visiting here, I found myself constantly shifting my field of view to things above and below me. Colorful tilting rocks in vast landscapes showed geology in action. Petroglyphs and pictographs told stories of Indigenous people from long ago. An amazing collection of dinosaur fossils took me even further back in time.
The Monument also includes places to hike, fish, river raft, picnic, and camp. There’s a visitor center in Utah, and another in Colorado.
The small Visitor Center in Utah features informational exhibits and a store.
In June, I visited Legend Rock State Petroglyph Site near Thermopolis, Wyoming. The quarter-mile-long sandstone cliff at an isolated site is adorned with hundreds of Legend Rock petroglyphs. When you walk the trail beside these images, it is truly a step back in time.
Seeing Legend Rock petroglyphs up close
More than 300 petroglyphs have been identified on 92 rock panels. The oldest are at least 10,000 years old. The petroglyphs were carved by “ancestors of today’s Numic-speaking Eastern Shoshone tribe.”
Due to the fantastical nature of the images carved here, this site is thought to have been used by individuals on vision quests. The images were carved so long ago, their exact meanings are unknown.
In 1973, the state acquired the site and later that year, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites. The site included sections owned by the state and federal government, and private landowners. In 2015, local landowner Richard Wagner donated the last part needing protection.
In April 2019, I went on a field trip to see petroglyphs & pictographs in Harney County, in eastern Oregon. This is one of the many trips offered as a part of the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival. Our guides that day were Bureau of Land Management archaeologists, Scott Thomas and Carolyn Temple.
One of the first things we learned was the difference between petroglyphs and pictographs.
Pictographs, like the images shown below, are painted onto rocks. These works are generally drawn with red, black, white, or yellow paint.
Pictographs frequently include depictions of animals. For example, the drawing at the top of the picture below appears to be a lizard.