Tour of Utah: Newspaper Rock

Up to now, I’ve had some experience with the tourist destinations I’ve written about: Arches, Beehive House, Capitol Reef, Deseret Industries, Evermore Park, Flaming Gorge, Great Salt Lake, Hole in the Rock, Ice Castles, Jordan River Parkway Trail, Kennecott Copper Mine, Lagoon, and the Mountains. Where I haven’t been to them, I have -at least- read about a close friend’s visit or experiences.

Newspaper Rock State Historic Site, on the other hand, is one from the history books; in this case, the history books of fourth grade. Every child learns his Utah history at that age. Ours involves Lake Bonneville, Native Americans, Mormon pioneers, and learning a song about our twenty-nine counties.

By Cacophony – Own work

The native peoples of pre-European settlement in Utah were waaaay ahead of we bathroom-stall and tree-carving scrawlers. According to a sign posted at the site, “The first carvings at the Newspaper Rock site were made around 2,000 years ago, left by people from the Archaic, Anasazi, Fremont, Navajo, Anglo, and Pueblo cultures” (Wikipedia).

From there, ancient passersby etched even more images local animals, human figures, symbols, and past events. Apparently, it’s “one of the largest, best preserved and easily accessed groups in the Southwest” (also Wikipedia).

How did it happen? Why?

It’s surmised that the perennial natural spring attracted [peoples from the ancient Native American tribes] to this distinct area. There are over 650 rock art designs and include animals, human figures, and various symbols, some thought to be religious in nature. These petroglyphs were produced by pecking through the black desert varnish found on the rock to the lighter rock beneath.

Best of all, this wall of petroglyphs is easily accessible. You know, assuming you can get parking at the side of the road. It’s along the access road to Canyonlands National Park. According to, “There are no fees or permits required to visit Newspaper Rock or to drive the Indian Creek Scenic Byway through Indian Creek National Monument. There are fees to enter Canyonlands National Park. Just across the highway from the petroglyphs there is a picnic area and campground, which is free and is first-come, first-serve.”

By Jim from Calgary, Canada – Newspaper Rock

If you rent a car or RV after arriving at SLC International Airport, that’s a five hour drive. Maybe you’ll want to stop for lunch along the way. Or, make this one of your stops whilst staying in Moab if you can’t get over to see Arches.


It’s been a busy last few weeks, but not on the blog.

Just remember to enter the A Mused Poetry contest. The theme is eccentrics and it ends on June 26th.

©2021 Chel Owens

26 thoughts on “Tour of Utah: Newspaper Rock

  1. That’s fascinating and I would love to visit. About two thirds down New Zealand’s bottom island (South Island) are cave drawings done ancient people (not as ancient as yours) when hunting for Moas (a giant extinct bird). Each year the area has an arts festival and I was commissioned to write a play one year – so I used the cave figures as characters in the production.

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  2. Wow. I missed that one, Chelsea. My brother lived in Moab for a while and my parents lived near Grand Junction, Colorado. So I took good advantage of that and spent some time exploring Utah. It’s an amazing state for natural beauty. These petroglyphs are stunning. Thanks for sharing!

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      1. No. They’ve all moved west, but my brother LOVED Utah. He’s an outdoorsy guy and Moab was perfect. But it’s hot there! I remember hiking up to Delicate Arch in 106 temps. Worth it, but I was cooked. 😀

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  3. Looks like all modern man’s bathroom graffiti could become “religious symbols” one day!

    (not intending to be mean – it just reminded me of very graffitid high school stalls)

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