by Mary Edwards
Sitting on the ground, eating lunch with my twins, near the hundreds of years old Anasazi petroglyphs felt like sitting next to rock stars – it was unreal.
The Anasazi (Navajo meaning “ancient ones”) were true “rock stars”. They created rock art throughout the southwestern U.S. and today their symbols are used in fashionable decor, furniture, jewelry and tee shirts everywhere.
If you’re like me, I have to find hikes with a lot of bang for the buck or my children lose interest and complain. Recently, during our trip to St. George, Utah, we visited the Anasazi Ridge Petroglyphs, a rock art site overlooking the Santa Clara River a few miles west of St George. The hike is a moderate 1.5 mile uphill trudge with petroglyphs found in small groups, and larger panels along a hundred meter section of the ridge.
This hike is enough off the beaten path that we were practically by ourselves roaming the rocks and cliffs feeling like explorers for National Geographic. Walking through the site, I began to wonder why various symbols were used. Archeologists vary in their opinions, some think they are simply “doodles”, while others believe they demonstrate tribal territories, the presence of game (animals), or religious rituals (zigzags, spirals, dots). Whatever the petroglyphs represent, they are unique and worth seeing. It was awe inspiring and humbling to observe how we, as human beings, desire to leave our mark in the world.
A visit to the American Southwestern deserts should definitely include petroglyph viewing. You can find these sites by an Internet search, contacting local chambers of commerce and museums, or by checking with the National Park Service.
Do not touch or walk on the petroglyphs to preserve them. Photographs are encouraged.
Pack water, sunscreen and snacks/lunch.
Visit in the morning or evening for best light and viewing.
Directions to the Anasazi Valley Trailhead: From I-15 Exit 6 turn north on Bluff Street. Turn left on Sunset Blvd. Continue on Sunset Blvd as it turns into Santa Clara Drive. Continue 3.2 miles past the Jacob Hamblin Home as Santa Clara Drive turns into Highway 91. Turn left onto a gravel road and travel 0.3 miles to the Anasazi Valley Trailhead. (Directions from BLM website)
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