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Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel

Updated: Mar 18

Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Pannel

Buckhorn Wash Pictograph panel is an extensive rock art panel located in the San Rafael Swell area of Utah, about two hours north of Moab. This impressive panel is right next to the road so one can easily drive up and see the pictographs, no hiking required. Buckhorn Wash Pictograph is one of the best roadside pictograph panels in all of Utah. We stopped at the panel while driving from the Salt Lake City airport. The stop made for a great way to breakup the 4 hour drive and didn’t not add to much to the time in the car.

Barrier Canyon Pictograph Buckhorn Wash

At 130 feet in length, the Buckhorn Wash Panel is the most extensive panel I have visited to date. It is awe inspiring to view the panel from the trail in front of the panel. Some people may be tempted to jump out and snap a quick photo and move one. What a waste, you don’t see things like this every day, take time and study what you see. How do you interpret the panel? I always love showing off Utah's amazing hidden treasures to people that haven't been to Utah before. My favorite is to show them and then see what they think the panels mean.

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San Rafael Swell Pictographs

The Buckhorn Wash Panel is an outstanding example of Barrier Canyon style rock art. The name Barrier Canyon comes from a canyon in Canyonlands National Park where this style of rock art was first studied. The canyon has since had its name changed to Horseshoe Canyon. Barrier Canyon rock art is dated from 2,000 to 6,000 years ago. Barrier Canyon typically consists of anthropomorphs or spirit beings and is easily differentiated from Fremont Petroglyphs which are more common near Moab.

Anthropomorph Beings Pictographs

No one knowsa for sure what all of these drawings mean. Many ”experts” think the drawings have a spiritual meaning. My wife believes the pictures were inspired by a visit from ancient aliens. After a recent camping trip, we discovered our shadows on the rock walls behind our campfire looked just like many of the figures in the panels. Maybe everyone is overthinking this rock art stuff and it was simply guys drawing shadows they saw art night while sleeping in the desert. Remember, the artist had no modern conveniences such as smartphones to look at around the fire, maybe the shadows were the most interesting things they had.

Buckhorn Draw Pictograph Panel

The pictograph panels in Buckhorn Draw, just like all pictograph panels near roads has been vandalized in the past. It is unfortunate that this happens, I mean really what are people thinking when they do this? Fortunately, the good people of Emory County, Utah saw the importance of this rock art site and took it upon themselves to rescue the site and restore it.

Camping in the San Rafael Swell

After being delayed at the airport we knew we would be arriving in Moab after dark. Since we were planning a UTV Overlanding trip anyway we already had our camping gear with us. As luck would have it we surprised upon the Swinging Bridge Campground along the San Rafael River.

Swinging Bridge Campground
San Rafael River

Though one would have a hard time claiming this as Moab's best camping spot you could make a solid argument that this was Moab's best drive up camping spot. The campground was right beside the San Rafael River in a deep canyon. When morning arrived we were greeted with one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen of the sunrise. There are no filters or photoshopping of this photo, we simply rolled out of our sleeping bags and snapped the photo. It was amazing to see this site. Unfortunately, these jaw dropping colors only lasted a few minutes. Seeing sites like this makes me think, do images like this happen every day in southern Utah?

If you are considering a Moab adventure we would recommend checking out the townhomes at Moab Adventure Condo. We stayed with them and it was so nice to have room to relax and not be stuck in a cramped hotel room. Since the cost of the rental was split between two families it actually ended up being cheaper than a hotel room and much nicer. Not to mention the pool and hot tub were just sets from our condo.

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