Newspaper Rock State Historical Monument, Utah

March 18, 2021

Newspaper Rock main panel

Photographer: Rick Stankiewicz
Summary Author: Rick Stankiewicz

The U.S. Southwest is full of interesting geological formations and history. Tracking down traces of human history in the landscape can be equally interesting and rewarding. Such was the case when I was touring through southern Utah a few years ago. I had read of a location In San Juan County, along Hwy-211, 12 miles (8 km) west of US-191, north of the Abajo Mountains called Newspaper Rock State Historical Monument (not to be confused with Newspaper Rock at the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona). This site is easily accessible by car and a short walk from a parking lot. It's aptly named for the hundreds of petroglyphs carved into the black desert varnished Wingate Sandstone face. This darkened surface coloration is caused by high levels of manganese. Other terms for this feature are rock rust or desert patina.

There are several smaller side panels but the main panel, one of the most densely populated rock faces I have ever seen, is protected and well preserved by a small lintel. Images include a myriad of abstract designs along with human figures (some riding horses), wildlife such as buffalo, bighorn sheep, mule deer and many six-toed foot (or paw) prints. Some sources estimate this site to be used for over 2,000 years, from the Archaic to Pueblo Cultures. Recent images include horse-mounted riders hunting with bows and arrows. It is thought that ceremonies may have been performed here or perhaps it was a place for marking events and passages through the region. What can you find of interest in this edition of the newspaper? Photo taken October 8, 2013.

Photo Details: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi, f/5.6, 1/60, 10mm