Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sand Island Petroglyph Panel, Utah

San Juan River, Sand Island Recreation Area, San Juan County, Utah
The San Juan River at Sand Island.
On a cold January afternoon I stopped by for another visit to the BLM's Sand Island Recreation Area.

Picnic area overlooking the San Juan River, Sand Island Recreation Area, Utah.
Picnic tables and shade shelters overlooking the San Juan River.
 There is a boat landing there on the San Juan River, a campground (self register and pay, year around) and picnic areas with vault toilets, and a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) ranger station (not open in the winter).

The campground has two loops. A small one with a few sites just to the east of the ranger station, and a much larger loop at the west end.

San Island Petroglyph Panel, Sand Island Recreation Area, San Juan County, Utah
Interpretive sign for the Sand Island Petroglyph Panel, on the cliff face in the background.
 It is along the road into and through the west campground loop that the Sand Island Petroglyph Panel is located. An exceptional collection of ancient inscriptions pecked into the patina of the sandstone cliff there. The main panel is protected by a chain link fence, with an easy trail along it so that you can ogle the many figures and photograph them without touching them.

San Island Petroglyph Panel, Sand Island Recreation Area, San Juan County, Utah
Petroglyphs etched into the sandstone cliff face. Notice rider on horse, which would be later than prehistoric.
 Most of the petroglyphs (pecked into the rock, as opposed to pictographs, which are painted on the rock) are prehistoric, up to probably a couple of thousand years old. They were made by what today are referred to as the Ancestral Puebloan culture. There are also a few that must have been made after the 1600s, when the first Spanish explorers introduced the horse to the natives in North America.

San Island Petroglyph Panel, Sand Island Recreation Area, San Juan County, Utah
Inscriptions of unknown meaning. But this must have been an important location, with so many of them.
 Photo location: Sand Island Recreation Area, southern San Juan County between Bluff and Mexican Hat, Utah.

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