You are on page 1of 2


National Park Service

U.S. Department of the Interior

Canyonlands National Park

Horseshoe Canyon

Horseshoe Canyon contains some of the most significant archaic rock art in North
America. Other impressive sights include spring wildflower displays, sheer sandstone
walls, and mature cottonwood trees which shade the canyon floor.

Cultural History The archeology of Horseshoe Canyon spans Though Horseshoe Canyon is most famous
thousands of years of human history. Arti- for its rock art, the canyons history has
facts recovered from sites in this area date many chapters. Hundreds of years after the
back as early as 9000-7000 BC, when Pa- prehistoric artists left the area, Europeans
leoindians hunted megafauna like mastodons arrived. Outlaws like Butch Cassidy made
and mammoths across the southwest. use of Horseshoe Canyon in the late 1800s,
taking refuge in the confusing network of
Native American rock art found in Horse- canyons, especially those around Robbers
shoe Canyon is most commonly painted Roost to the southwest.
in a style known as Barrier Canyon. This
style is believed to date to the Late Archaic Later, in the early 1900s, ranchers built
period, from 2000 BC to AD 500. During this several stock trails into Horseshoe so cows
time, nomadic groups of hunter-gatherers and sheep could reach water and feed in
continued to make Horseshoe Canyon their the canyon bottom. Eventually, the ranch-
seasonal home. ers constructed a pumping operation to fill
water tanks on the canyon rim. Many of
During later periods, the Fremont and these modifications are still visible today.
ancestral Puebloan cultures left their own
distinctive rock art in the canyon, but their Prospectors explored the area in the mid-
presence was brief in comparison and final 1900s, improving many stock trails to accom-
abandonment had occurred by AD 1300. modate vehicles and drill rigs. Though they
searched the rock layers for oil and other
Preserving the Past
The Great Gallery is the best known and minerals, no successful wells or mines were
Help us protect archeological resources. most spectacular of the Horseshoe Canyon ever established around Horseshoe Canyon.
Rock art is extremely fragile and can panels. This well-preserved site includes
be destroyed by the oil in human skin.
Please do not touch or chalk around
both pictographs (painted figures) and After being added to Canyonlands in 1971,
figures. All prehistoric artifacts and petroglyphs (figures etched in the rock with grazing and mineral exploration were dis-
ruins are irreplaceable treasures. Walk- a sharp stone). The tapered, life-size figures, continued. Today, park visitors descend the
ing through ruins, sitting on walls, lacking arms and legs and frequently con- old stock trail and marvel at the history of
handling artifacts and leaving modern
grafitti destroys a site's scientific and taining intricate designs, are characteristic of this magnificent canyon.
aesthetic value for future visitors. the Barrier Canyon style.

Activities Camping to 20 people. Bring your own drinking water.

Visitors may camp at the west rim trailhead There is no water above the canyon rim and
on public land managed by the BLM. A vault water sources are unreliable within the can-
toilet is provided but there is no water. No yon. All water should be purified.
overnight camping is allowed in Horseshoe
Canyon within the Park boundary. Guided Hikes
Rangers lead guided hikes in Horseshoe Can-
Hiking yon when staff are available. Contact the Hans
From the west rim trailhead, the hike to Flat Ranger Station at (435) 259-2652 for cur-
the Great Gallery is 7 miles round-trip, rent schedules. Special walks for educational
descending 750 feet and requiring about six or other large groups may also be planned by
hours. Pets are prohibited below the rim contacting Hans Flat. Walks usually depart
of Horseshoe Canyon. Group size is limited the west rim parking lot at 9 a.m.
Map To Price, Green River
NORTH Salt Lake City
see inset map

a to

Ro Crescent
Airp Junction,
to Moab

Town of Green River

Main St.
To Salina

Cherry St.

Solomon St.
Clark St.
24 Gr

42. Ro
rt oa

po d


to re


Park Ri

to 25
Hanksville .0

0 Canyon
The sheer sandstone walls of 5.
Horseshoe Canyon

How To Get There GLEN

Paved road
Two-wheel-drive access to the west
rim of Horseshoe Canyon is from

Utah Highway 24 via 30 miles of NATIONAL

2-wheel-drive road*

graded dirt road, or from Green RECREATION

River on 47 miles of dirt road. Driv- High-clearance,
4-wheel-drive road AREA
ing time is roughly 2.5 hours from
Moab or 1.5 hours from Green Riv- 1.0 Mileage
er. A four-wheel-drive road leads to
the east rim of Horseshoe Canyon Primitive Camping
Flat g
from the Hans Flat Ranger Station. * Unpaved 2-wheel-drive roads
All roads may become impassable may become impassable after storms.
during storms. Most visitors access To Maze District,
Horseshoe from the west side. Land of Standing Rocks

More Information Maps of Horseshoe Canyon include the Prehistory of Utah and the Eastern Great
Trails Illustrated series topographic map for Basin Jennings, 1978, 263 pp.
Canyonlands National Park (Maze & NE
Rock Art of Utah Schaafsma, 1971, 170pp.
Glen Canyon), and the USGS 7.5-minute
series Sugarloaf Butte topo map. These Sacred Images Kelen & Sucec, 1996, 112pp.
and other publications are available from The Anasazi : Why Did They Leave, Where
Canyonlands Natural History Association at Did They Go? Widdison, 1991, 71pp.
(800)840-8978, or on the Web at www.cnha.
org. The Foraging Spectrum (Diversity in Hunter-
Gatherer Lifeways) Kelly, 1995, 446pp.
Additional Reading
The Origins of Pre-Columbian Art Grieder, 1982
Anasazi: Prehistoric Cultures Houk, 1989 15pp
Those Who Came Before Lister & Lister, 1993
Cowboy Cave Jennings, 1980, 223pp.
Glen Canyon Revisited Geib, 1996, 223 pp.
Images on Stone Schaafsma, 1984, 31pp.
Indian Rock Art of the Southwest Schaafsma,
1980, 379pp.
Legacy on Stone Cole, 1990, 279pp.

Printed by Canyonlands Natural History Association, 07/10 3m


Related Interests