Saturday, August 26, 2017

More at Newspaper Rock Than Imagined.

After writing about the Four Corners Potato ( on my food blog; I decided to drag Roy away from his computer, and go plant hunting.  Newspaper Rock is only about 35-40 minutes away, well, except if you take the one paved road up through the Abajo Mountains and down Harts Draw Road; then it's an easy hour, hour and 15 minutes.  Armed with walking stick and several cameras, we parked in the lot at the Historical Monument; while tourists walked to the rock art wall, we went the opposite way.  There is a dirt trail that leads off from the restroom area; prickly pear cactus, claret cup cactus, sage brush, salt bush, juniper and pinon pine...but no potato plants.  Now mind you, we had no intention of digging up any plants; the thrill of actually seeing and photographing one would definitely be enough!

The trail eventually lead right back to the Route 211, so basically it dead-ended.

Looking across from parking lot at Newspaper Rock.

Trail past restroom dead ends.

Doowozhii aka 3-Wing Salt Bush or 4-Wing Salt Bush

Coming out onto Route 211, we decided to head directly across and check out a visible trail; zig-zagging through the wooded area, we ended up at Indian Creek.  It takes a bit of figuring out where to cross over, but we were able to get back and forth a few times.  Wearing waterproof hiking boots is a must for this kind of outing.  Three plants that were dominant were:

Indian Paintbrush

Canaigre Dock (Buckwheat family)
The Burdock and Canaigre Dock bloom May-June, and even the Indian Paintbrush was not as bright being near the end of August.  Monsoon season was essentially over, so that's another reason why we were hoping to see the 4 Corners Potato, since it thrives due to the moisture.

We ended back at the parking area, checked out the trail that goes down and to the right of Newspaper Rock itself, but, again, no plants we were looking for.  We checked out the small alcoves there, where we usually enjoy picnics, and found that others had definitely been there....modern graffiti of initials and names that were not there 1-2 years ago!  I find it funny that, with this Bears Ears National Monument issue; tourists cry out, "It's public land, we have the right to be on it."  Yes, it's public land, but you DON'T have the right to deface historical areas, destroy landscapes, and leave your crap lying around!!!  ...and there is my rant for this post.

Anyway, we left and drove back towards Highway 191, but only got about 500 feet where there is a pull-in area; and across is a trail (hiking/ATV) leading off to the wooded area.  As there were plants along the bottom of the rock wall, we walked and searched; went down into a small dry wash, came back up and stared at the bullet holes that ranchers had left when they first came through this area. There is one large panel of them, but we started to notice more and then it came to mind that this was often done where Native American rock art existed.  We looked, we stared and then we saw it; faint drawings and carvings, could it be true?  Using my camera's zoom lens and a pair of binoculars, it was confirmed. we had found more rock art that was approximately 550 feet before getting to Newspaper Rock itself.

View of area from across Indian Creek.

Panel riddled with bullet holes, about 200 feet up.
Hunting Scene

Big Horn Sheep Carvings
Bullet holes obscure Roger's last name & full date.

Bird figure?

Figures on this panel are very similar to the Wolfman Panel at Comb Ridge (Lower Butler Wash)

More bullet holes among the drawings.

Stick figures are questionable, but the animal figure looks authentic.

Truman Wilcox was there on July 11, 1926.

Looking across from these panels, there is a jutting point; couldn't find a name for it on any maps though.

I asked locals about the rock art, but it seemed they knew of Newspaper Rock, but not of any in the nearby area.  It was suggested I contact the BLM - Monticello Field Office; I gave the desk person information about the area and contact info.   A couple of days later I received a call back; this is, indeed, listed as a historical site, just not advertised due to Newspaper Rock being the "popular" location.  Hey, all you public lands people, look, but DON'T touch...there's a hint for you.

In conclusion, we didn't find any potato plants to photograph, but we found this wonderful rock art site we must have passed by, oh, over a hundred times, or more, by now.  Still got a thrill for the day!

Mary Cokenour

1 comment:

  1. It always amazes me that so many people just live to shoot the heck out of everything they can.
    I've been to Newspaper Rock, but had no idea about the other petroglyphs. Thanks for that!