Nine Mile Canyon VII: Awesome!


is Swell
Jan 17, 2012
After spending the previous day in Nine Mile Canyon and seeing some high-up rock art from a distance, I returned to climb high above the canyon floor to get a closer look. First, I stopped to look for a petroglyph site that Celia had told me about the day before. There's a "First Site" in upper Nine Mile Canyon that is so-named for being the first rock art site one encounters when traveling downstream from the head of Nine Mile Creek, but there's in fact a much-farther-upstream site. Thanks to Celia's directions I was able to find that site.

"First Site"

I parked my Jeep below the ruins and rock art that we'd seen the day before, and it would remain there most of the rest of the day. I had named the waypoint in my GPS "Awesome!" based just on what could be seen from the road, and it turned out to be much more so up close. There was so much to see in the immediate area that I spent most of the day climbing higher and higher and finding rock art all along the way. At first I saw a few very small petroglyphs and an arrowhead which was the first I'd seen anywhere in Nine Mile.

Unusual wildlife in Nine Mile Canyon

My Grand Cherokee visible through a hole in the wall of a ruin

A panel of small petroglyphs

Tiny sheep petroglyph with my hand for scale

Ooh, a pretty rock! The first I've seen in Nine Mile.

Next I encountered the first of several upside-down figures. I can't help but think the figures represent something, but I'd stop short of guessing what that might be. Another prevalent theme in the area was dots and zig-zag and wavy lines.

Faint upside-down-man (left) and a guy with something strange going on between his legs

Large sheep and associated lines and dots

Wandering line

Small sheep and long squiggly line

Tiny petroglyph

Partially pecked-in sheep

Pecked line and scratched elk

One more common theme was anthropomorphs with antlers or antennae, the first of which was one of the most interesting petroglyphs I've seen. It appeared to be a figure with antlers, but one hand was pecked solid, and it appeared to be standing on a tree-like element with a snake-like figure between the legs. Very odd. I climbed higher and found many more surprises--it seemed unusual to find so much rock art so high above the canyon floor.

Anthropomorph with antlers


Anthropomorph and other random petroglyphs

Transverse and square waves

Sheep and dots

Upside-down horned snake

Large (about 6'x6') panel of diagonal lines and zig-zags

Another upside-down guy

The next interesting petroglyph I encountered was a large grid, almost in the shape of a human figure, but not quite. Next to it was a large, inverted representation of an arrowhead. I stopped for lunch, then climbed yet higher and found a smattering of random petroglyphs, but no more large, cohesive panels.

Large grid and other interesting petroglyphs

Long zig-zag line and a strange sheep

One-horned guy

Running sheep

Antennae man

Big sheep

Shield guy

Curly-tailed sheep

High-up petroglyphs

The sun was almost behind the high canyon walls when I returned via a circuitous route down through the ledges and back to the Jeep. During the drive home I saw many deer, some of which crossed the road in front of me and were kind enough to pose on the hillside next to the road for some photos.

1x2 buck deer

4-point buck

Photo Gallery: Nine Mile Canyon VII: Awesome!

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Desert Rat-Weekend Warrior
Jun 7, 2012
that's some really great art. So interesting.


Jul 5, 2014
Very cool. So it that a domestic cat you saw out there or is that something else? Also, is that an arrowhead? Interesting how different the deer out there look compared to the ones near me.


Oct 27, 2013
Nine Mile Canyon is on my "to see someday" list. All the recent posts about it are moving it nearer and nearer to the top of my list!


is Swell
Jan 17, 2012
So it that a domestic cat you saw out there or is that something else? Also, is that an arrowhead?
Yep and yep! :) There were several feral cats in that spot. There was a ranch about 1/3-mile away, so maybe they belong to the ranch. I believe the arrowhead was made of obsidian, which makes it even more interesting since the nearest source of obsidian is over 100 miles away.
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