Dripping Canyon to Grand Gulch, Cedar Mesa, Utah - March 2022

TrailScot

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I recently used Dripping Canyon on Cedar Mesa to access some interesting rock-art panels and archaeological sites close to Grand Gulch. I parked next to Highway 276 and hiked cross-country across the mesa. I then descended into Dripping Canyon via a small side-drainage, and then hiked to Grand Gulch. I later exited Dripping Canyon by a different small drainage, and crossed Cedar Mesa to get back to my vehicle. I did this as a long day-hike.

I wasn't entirely sure that Dripping Canyon would provide access to Grand Gulch, due to the pour-offs in the main drainage. However, the final 'impassable' dry-fall, one mile from the Gulch is, in fact, crossable via a narrow exposed ledge and a steep, but secure, rubble slope. The 3 feet wide ledge initially looks intimidating, but it is short and relatively easy to navigate, with care. The other pour-offs, further up the canyon, are easily bypassed.

The main site I visited was fascinating, with several panels comprising numerous petroglyphs and pictographs on a steep rock-face. The large rocks at the base of the cliff were covered in many scratches, gouges, grooves, and notches. The most interesting was perhaps a flat rock with several metate-like 'smoothed' areas, each with a gouged hole, that were joined together by narrow scraped lines. There is such a plethora of things to see at this site, that perhaps it was visited by different groups of the Ancient Ones at different times, over the centuries. And, if this is the case, why here, at this particular cliff-face, I wonder ?

Also fascinating were 4 large pictographs that appear to have possibly been crudely 'covered-up' at a later point. It's difficult to be certain, but it appears that at least 2 of these images contained jewelry or head-dress adornments. I wonder if it possible that these 4 images were originally in the style of the 'Faces' pictographs (of which there are several in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park) but were literally defaced by later visitors. I don't know Grand Gulch particularly well, but I'm not sure that there are any typical 'Faces' pictographs in this area. Why would they want to partially destroy these images ? It is, as always, one of the wonderful mysteries of the South-West and its original inhabitants.


Dripping Canyon
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Obstacle #1
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Obstacle #2 - deep pot-holes
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Ledge and steep rubble slope next to final high pour-off
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Exposed ledge
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Pour-off
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Gouged holes in flattened surfaces on rock, with scratched lines joining the holes
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As above
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Defaced (?) pictographs
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More 'damaged' panels
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Very cool, so much great stuff to see in that area! Congrats on making a plan that worked and finding such an interesting assortment of rock art.
 
Green mask in GG is similar to the "Faces" ... only one I really know of.
 
Nice GG plan! I bet that ledge got your attention :eek:. I had trouble just watching the ledge photo, ha! Thanks for sharing.
 
Last edited:
Nice GG plan! I bet that ledge got your attention :eek:. I had trouble just watching the ledge photo, ha! Thanks for sharing.

Thanks ... hee, hee :lol: ... yes, I definately did have to think twice about traversing that ledge ... I am no fan of exposre, at all ... but, since I was so close to reaching Grand Gulch, the adrenaline kicked in, and I had to go for it ... then, a few minutes later you remember that you need to return the same way, later in the day :) ... but, honestly, it really isn't that bad ...
 
Hi TrailScot,

It's cool to see photos of this remote canyon I love and visit each year! I have worked in the Bears Ears region since 2012, and have seen a lot of people seeking obscure rock art and structures in far-remote canyons because of photos they've seen online. I've noticed, and rangers I work have confirmed an increase in looting in the past few years, and trails forming to ancestral sites where more carful footsteps (on slickrock or in non-crypto drainages) would keep the sites more hidden. In light of this, I'm writing to request that you take down your photos of rock art in the area.

I think it's fine to post route-finding photos and to say that there is rock art in the area. I also know that the combined communities land managers, non-native guides (like myself), and native people who use this land see that increased photography online is not contributing to increased care for the land. On the contrary, as visitors increase, we see a struggle to educate people on how to care well for fragile historical and ecological elements of the land. I hope you'll consider that for some of these magical-feeling places like hidden structures and rock art alcoves, part of the joy is in the mystery, and that removing photographs of cultural pieces of the landscape can help protect the land and its history.

Thank you for your consideration!
Jeff
 
Sorry, my feeling/opinion is this is another..... This is a private viewing museum..for only those in the know. More traffic is inevitable as the Earth's population increases. A pic does not say where it's located. The actual monument, park or wilderness designation does a lot more bringing in additional people than pics. I think you'll find on this forum most pics do not give away much...

I'll give you, that you asked without the usual hard a** way.. that is appreciated. But in the end it is the people's land as well, we are all Americans...

As for me don't ask me to remove things.... I won't. What others do is up to them.... My 2cents.
 
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