Ranger Kathryn's Arches

June 27, 2009

Ancient Aliens

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 7:42 pm

A pronghorn group — thin mother, twin fawns, and a tiny-horned male — look up warily as I drive past their grazing spot in the middle of the deserted town.  Oh, it’s only Olive, I hear them tell each other as they return to nibbling what meager portions of grass they can find.  I snap their photos and head north.


Pronghorn family in the ghost town

Pronghorn family in the ghost town




pronghorn fawn

pronghorn fawn












Two large black SUVs are tailing me, and I would rather not have to deal with them, so I pull over to let them pass.  Which they do gladly.  I will mosey at my own leisurely pace.

Three miles up the canyon a primitive parking area sits unmarked; two black SUVs occupy it.  I pull in and remind Olive how beautiful she is next to those beasts.  An extended family group of four adults and six children are noisily tramping about, with one obnoxious teen-aged boy yelling harshly, “I said, Everybody come HERE!”  “Here” was a rock art panel (one of four in the immediate area) dating back 2000 years.  I look around for anyplace else I could go to avoid this peace-disturbing entourage, but there is no escape.  I find a gully and pick my way down into the wash to put a little space between myself and Rude Teenager With iPod in Ear.  This is my last quest of the day, and I would rather it not be ruined. 


Fremont Style, A.D. 600 -- trapezoids for head and body; collars

Fremont Style, A.D. 600 -- trapezoids for head and body; collars. Petroglyph (pecked).



Let us, for the sake of brevity, assume that I successfully ignored all further unpleasantries that transpired in said family.  Let us instead focus on the wonders of ancient rock art mysteries.  Some of the Archaic period art is 7000 yrs old!  Due to vandals having scratched out the information signs in front of each panel, I can not tell you if I saw some that old.  But I did see Fremont art, old Barrier Canyon style art, and … sadly… TONS of vandalism.  People used the anthropomorphic forms as targets for rifle practice, so bullet holes abound.  On every panel, without exception, idiots have scratched their own initials or name or year.  One dumbo put his first and last name (an unusual name) and “son of Andy O,” and I hoped against hope that some intrepid detective could nail him and fine him fifty thousand dollars.


can you see the bullet holes?

can you see the bullet holes?

But let’s try to see past all that.  The fascination with this art is in the vastly differing styles present.  Some figures are trapezoids.  Some lack eyes or limbs.  Some have head horns.  Some wear collars.  And some, to me the most intriguing of all, resemble aliens.  I know their shamans had self-induced other-worldly experiences, but Crikey!  This is crazy stuff.



pictographs (painted, not pecked)

Barrier Canyon pictographs (painted, not pecked) -- 500 BC to 500 AD



  1. These art forms always make me wonder about the artists. If only they could talk. And…… if only my daughter had a GPS gizmo with her when she ventures out into the sometimes poorly marked desert. You know, you could register “home” on it as your visitor center or your apartment, and you’d always find your way out. Of course, it might be as the crow flies, and that would possibly be a worse predicament! I seem to remember though, that you can set it at your car and it will retrace your path. Ask about it. You have a bit of summer let in which to get lost in the desert! Do be “not too brash”, please.

    Comment by Mom — June 27, 2009 @ 8:14 pm | Reply

  2. yes, a GPS will tend to direct you as the crow flies, but you can also have it draw a path from your starting point. they are nothing short of incredibal. invest in one Kathryn

    Comment by john — June 29, 2009 @ 8:05 am | Reply

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