Finding an Ancient Treasure Without a Map

Artwork from the "Ancient Ones" is plentiful, though not always easy to find.
Artwork from the “Ancient Ones” is plentiful, though not always easy to find.

Some of Southern Utah’s Best Sites Are “Off the Beaten Path”

Within a few miles of Nielson RV in Hurricane, Utah, travelers can find dozens of scenic wonders and world-class recreational opportunities. Zion National Park is about a 30 minute drive, and Bryce & Grand Canyons are less than 3 hours away. Some of the world’s best golfing, canyoneering, hiking, boating and camping are just minutes from our facility.

With so many well-known locations and adrenaline-filled adventures calling for attention, it’s easy to overlook some of the most interesting places and activities which are available in “Utah’s Dixie.” One of my favorite things to do here is to simply explore the back roads surrounding Hurricane and St. George. No matter which direction you go, you are likely to find something of interest, whether it’s wildflowers in the Spring, a herd of deer migrating to higher ground, or small Native-American artifacts left behind by those who lived in the red-rock canyons and mesa-tops of the region.

"Anasazi" pottery sherds are often found near petroglyph panels.
“Anasazi” pottery sherds are often found near petroglyph panels.
One recent exploration led me to an area known to contain some rather spectacular petroglyphs. I’d been to the area a dozen times before, yet the ancient rock-art eluded me with each visit. I searched in vain for references on local maps or guide books. Inquiries at the local BLM offices simply brought smiles from those who knew more than they could tell. As frustrating as this was, it made the search more intriguing, and the eventual discovery that much more satisfying.

While wandering down a path one evening, I noticed the way the setting sun seemed perfectly framed in a distant notch between cliffs. The last few minutes of daylight brought a shaft of light shining directly on the cliff-face in front of me, and, with Spring Equinox nearly upon us, it seemed the perfect place for ancient inhabitants to inscribe some type of fertility symbol, or to form a crude calendar indicating the arrival of planting season. Just as I had hoped, a searching gaze across the ravine revealed a large panel of deeply-carved figures, verifying my suspicion that this place and season had significance to those who came before.

With daylight almost gone, I didn’t have time to examine the rock carvings closely that evening. However, I was able to return a few days later, and finally capture on film what I had searched so long to find. It wasn’t even on the map, but it’s now fixed in my mind as another very special place that goes unnoticed by the travelling masses in southern Utah.

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