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Backpacker Magazine – May 2005

Top 3: Native Art Hikes

Explore burial effigies, seven-foot petroglyphs, and images etched in lava as you discover the ultimate mix of manmade and natural beauty.

by: Kelly Bastone

©Dave Schiefelbein

Horseshoe Canyon, UT

Trek to desert rock art

The Hike

Horseshoe Canyon is a detached unit of Canyonlands National Park, but this satellite sector is so remote they don't even collect fees. What's taxing is the 3-hour drive from Moab, but that's a fair price for the chance to see spectacular pictographs--paintings made as many as 8,000 years ago by predecessors of the Puebloan tribes. The hike is 7 miles out and back; as you begin the 750-foot descent from the rim, look to the left for three-toed, 8-inch-long dinosaur tracks in gray limestone. Go right at the canyon floor past several small pictograph sites en route to the Great Gallery, a 200-foot panel with dozens of haunting red, brown, and white figures. The "Holy Ghost" is a Shaquillean 7-footer.

The Find

Turn the day into an overnight by toting your tent (plus water) 5 miles north to Keg Point, a solitary slickrock overlook on BLM land.


The Way

From Green River, take I-70 west to UT 24 south. Go left on a road marked "Maze District"; follow signs to Horseshoe Canyon. (435) 719-2313;

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