Dinosaur National Monument Petroglyphs

It’s my 77th birthday today, and, since this is petroglyph week, I decided to repost a couple of older blogs although I may be a tad sensitive about the ‘older’ designation. (Grin) Actually Peggy bought me a new light weight sleeping bag. She wants us to do Oregon next year following the PCT from the Oregon border to the Washington border. We are still thinking ‘younger’ around here. Anyway, enjoy the petroglyphs of Dinosaur National Monument today and Sego Canyon tomorrow. On Friday, I’ll be back on schedule, maybe, with the Snakes of Three Rivers petroglyph site! Also, I will hold on responding to comments and checking in on your blogs, but I will get there on Friday and the weekend. Now it is time to go play! We are on the Oregon Coast again, this time in Florence.

Like much Indian rock-art, Cub Creek petroglyphs in Dinosaur National Monument raise intriguing questions. It would be fascinating to know the story behind this unique anthropomorphic figure. What do the lines stretching toward the sky represent?

Peggy and I crossed over the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument and followed the road toward the cabin of Josie Basset Morris, a tough old pioneer woman who had worked her way through five husbands and finally discovered she preferred living alone.

The river, mountains and distant vistas entertained us along the way. Two prominent landmarks, Elephant Toes and Turtle Rock, lived up to the names the early settlers had bestowed on them. I found the big toes particularly amusing.

Elephant Toes Rock in Dinosaur National Monument along the Cub Creek Road. 
While not  as humorous as Elephant Toes, the turtle of Turtle Rock is easy to see. Both Native Americans and pioneers were quick to see and name familiar figures in the landscape.

The true surprise on our way to Josie’s, however, was the Indian rock-art. Huge six-foot lizards had been pecked into the cliff faces high above the Cub Creek Valley. One can only wonder if the Native Americans of the Fremont Culture had somehow made the correlation between dinosaur bones found throughout Dinosaur National Monument and really big lizards. Or did small lizards so prominent in desert environment serve as the models?

Our van, Quivera, provides perspective on how high up in the cliffs the Cub Creek petroglyphs are.
Giant, six-foot long, rock-art lizards work their way up the rock face at Cub Creek. Are they representative of the dinosaur bones Native Americans found at Dinosaur National Monument?
Or did the giant petroglyph lizards represent the small lizards so prominent in the arid regions of the West? This guy was curious about my camera.

Numerous other petroglyphs also demanded our attention. We even found a partial image of Kokopelli, the hunch backed flute player found in ancient rock-art from Mexico to Canada and whose image has been applied on everything from jewelry, to blankets, to pottery in today’s gift shops throughout the West. Kokopelli was both a musician and trickster god, but mainly he was a fertility deity known for his bad behavior. Watch out fair maidens one and all.

My wife Peggy admires a small section of the numerous petroglyphs found at the Indian rock-art site on Cub Creek in Dinosaur National Monument.
A partial petroglyph of the flute playing Kokopelli is found at the Cub Creek Indian rock-art site. Odds are he is luring young maidens with his music.
Geometric forms are common in rock art. This galaxy-like representation caught my attention.
I selected this particular photo because it demonstrates how dark rock varnish has been chipped away in the petroglyph process to reveal the lighter colored rock underneath.
An early day smiley? This guy appears to me to be all mouth but its creator likely had something else in mind.
Greetings Earthlings. Check out the dangling ear rings and necklace on this guy. Jewelry apparently was quite important to early Native Americans and may have represented an individual’s importance or clan.
You will probably note the prominent anatomy here. Genitalia was often included on rock art until the Spanish Missionaries informed the natives that such displays were sinful. I call this petroglyph Big Boy.

NEXT POST: The Aliens of Sego Canyon

24 thoughts on “Dinosaur National Monument Petroglyphs

  1. Happy Birthday, Curt!! Glad to hear you are still thinking young (Elaine Ooley would be proud!). Love the rock formations and looking forward to what you’ll have for us next!
    ENJOY your day!!

  2. Well, I’ve been called an old dinosaur by my kids, and there’s some truth to it. But I’m happy to be on the planet and still kicking! Happy 77th birthday to you. And thanks for these good photos. I love petroglyphs mainly because it gives me hope that I, too, could draw a stick figure on a rock if I chose to do so. But I might not include all those private parts!!!

    • I suspect you would leave off the ‘private parts,’ Rusha. Laughing. They are quite common on petroglyphs, however. And some are much more graphic! And thanks for the good wishes. Appreciated. –Curt

  3. Happy birthday, Curt! I’d say the real guy peering over the edge of the rocks is a perfect representation of you: curious, willing to push the boundaries a little, and very, very alert! Here’s to many more years of putting those qualities to work!

  4. Happy Belated Bday Curt. Still goin’ strong I see. I must admit that when we visited Dinosaur, our primary focus was on the dino bones, so we didn’t spend much time on petroglyphs, so as always, your photos are interesting to see.

    We’ve just cancelled a month-long trip to South Africa, so we’re sorta bummed, but given the panic, it’s probably for the best. When I see all your photos of the countryside around this area, my first thought is: What a great place for “Social Distancing.” All the best to you and Peggy. ~James

    • First, James, thanks for the birthday wishes. And we too, just cancelled a trip. Ours was through the Panama Canal. Peggy lived there in the 70s and was ever so eager to return. Oh well. Later. And yes, as you are aware, all kinds of social distancing available in the Southwest. 🙂 –Curt

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