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Utah Travel Headlines

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Eerie Ancient Rock Art and Weird Fossils

I enjoy exploring to find and photograph ancient Native American rock art sites. I've been to a bunch of them, in Utah and around the Western US.

Some of the sites are located adjacent to roads and are easy to access. Others are in remote areas - some extremely remote. It is always fun to find them, always interesting to see the figures and try to figure out what they might mean.

Last weekend I hiked to a remote site that is highly unusual, even downright weird, as you can see from my photo here. I took many more and they are just as weird.

The site is located on the "Arizona Strip" - that part of Arizona that is north of the Grand Canyon, and is best accessed through southern Utah. It is near the top of Tuckup Canyon, a major site canyon on the Grand Canyon North Rim.

The hike in is strenuous. It is only about 6 miles, round trip, but very steep. You drop down about 2,000 feet as you hike in, and then you have to climb back up 2,000 feet. I was exhausted at the end of the hike.

The Tuckup Trail runs for about 100 miles along the central part of the North Rim. It provides the opportunity for extended hikes and backpacking trips. It is best hiked during spring and fall. Summer temperatures get very hot and most of the trail is totally exposed to full sunshine.

Most rock art sites have small figures that resemble animals and humanoid creatures. The site in Tuckup Canyon has large figures, some more than 6 feet tall. They are skinny and have some humanoid features. Some think they may represent shamans or other spiritually powerful creatures. Some have an eerie appearance.

Along the trail we saw thousands of weird fossils. Many fossils leave an indention in a rock - with a pattern produced by a ancient shell or some hard structure. There were those kinds of fossils along the trail, but far more that were the reverse - nodules protruding from the flat surfaces of many rocks. Many of the nodules were cylindrical with obvious rings, and were dark in color. They looked like rusty bolts, with course threads, sticking halfway out of a flat clay surface. Others looked like sticks.

Very strange. Weird fossils and eerie rock art - Tuckup Canyon is a great place.

- Dave Webb

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