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Sego Canyon Rock Art Petroglyphs and Ghost Town

Updated: Mar 18

Sego Canyon Petroglyph

As the saying goes, "Save the best for last". Imagine you have been exploring Moab, Utah all week and your vacation is nearly over, and you are heading home. If you are like me and never want to leave Moab. Don't worry, you have one more chance to see one of the coolest sites in the Moab area, the Sego Canyon Rock Art Site. The Sego Canon Petroglyphs are arguably the best in Moab.

Barrier Style Petroglyphs at Sego Canyon

One of the most interesting features of Sego Canyon is the range of ages of the artwork shown. The oldest and most interesting to me are the Barrier Style Petroglyphs. Barrier Style Petroglyphs range in age from 2000 to 6000 years old. Just imagine that if you can, these paintings have been here for nearly half the known time that man has inhabited North America. Think like the Old Testament.

Sego Canyon Fremont Petroglyphs

Also, there is an extensive Fremont Style panel right next to the Barrier Panel. Fremont petroglyphs are much younger and range in age from 300-1300 A.D. There are similar panels that can be found in Moab along Kane Creek Dr near Magic Theater Arch. When you look closely you can see that this panel was painted over an older Barrier panel. It is unclear why one painting is covering the other.

Sego Canyon Ute Petroglyphs

The newest panel is a Ute Panel. You can date this panel to a time after Christopher Columbus, as the panel has horses in it. Many romantic notions about Indians are that they always had horses. This is not true, horses can with the Spanish. The Moab Grotto is of a similar age and also contains images of horses. No matter how old these works of art are they are very impressive to admire in person.

Petroglyphs near Thompson Springs Utah

Many people who visit this area only look at the three main panels. However, there are at least two other large and interesting panels in the immediate area. Across the road, you will notice a corral. Behind the corral, you see an image of five andromorphs. Just these figures in and of themselves would make this a worthwhile trip yet many people can easily miss this panel.

Petroglyphs near I-70

The last panel I was able to locate was also in the same area as the corral. I actually really liked this one and thought the image of the red-striped figure was really neat.

I really find the Barrier Style and Fremont images to be the most interesting. I can't help but think of the TV show Ancient Aliens when I look at these. I mean really, what inspired these images? Was it contact with some other being? Was it simply someone's imagination? In reality, no one will ever be able to say with certainty.

Sego Natural Bridge

In addition to the petroglyph panels, there is the small Sego Canyon Arch across the canyon on the other side of what's left of an old bridge from the mining day. Not that impressive but so long as you are there it is another arch/bridge to bag. I would actually say this feature should be called Sego Canyon Natural Bridge and not an arch as it was formed from running water forcing its way into a crack in the top of an alcove. I am unaware of the natural bridge's real name as it is not shown on any maps that I have seen.

Sego Ghost Town

Also in the same area is the Sego ghost town. The main attraction is a stone building. I have seen photos of other structures in the area but we did not see them. The town of Sego was formed as a result of a local coal seam in the area. Due to the coal's location close to the railroad that passes through nearby Thompson, the mine owners could easily supply the railroad with coal. The mines were only in operation for a few years before the railroad switched from coal to diesel-powered locomotives. This switch spelled the end of Sego mine and town.

No special equipment is required to reach these panels and all should be able to enjoy them even if only from your car window. To reach the panel travel on I-70 to exit 187 Thompson Springs. From here simply stay on the main road through town. You will start to enter a canyon. Continue to follow the road until you reach the clearly marked parking area. To find the ghost town, return to the interstate and take the main road on the right (east). After a short distance, you will arrive at what's left of the town. Note: the road turns to dirt shortly after leaving Thompson Springs.

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