The Great Gallery in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, is one of the most significant rock art sites in the Southwest.
Located in Horseshoe Canyon, a remote area of the park, it features life-size anthropomorphic figures that were painted on the cliff walls in a style known as Barrier Canyon.
To see the pictographs in person, first you’ll need to drive to the area and then drive a 30-mile gravel road to the trailhead, where you’ll take a 6.5-mile round-trip hike.
The hike is moderately strenuous and involves following a route with well-placed cairns to guide you through the slickrock as you make your way down to Horseshoe Canyon. You will lose about 800 feet in elevation from the trailhead to the canyon.
The trailhead is at an elevation of 5,344 feet, meaning temperatures may change dramatically through the day, so dress in layers and bring a hat.
Do not set out on the gravel road or on the hike before checking on weather conditions. I also would recommend having a four-wheel-drive, high-clearance vehicle for this trip.
Once you arrive in the canyon you go right and head upstream. There are several smaller pictograph sites starting with High Gallery, which is about one-third-mile walk on the left side. The next three sites will be on your right. They are Horseshoe Shelter, Alcove Site and then the most spectacular of all, Great Gallery.
Camping is not allowed in Horseshoe Canyon but dispersed camping is allowed on the BLM land at the trailhead. There are no amenities except a vault toilet.
You will need to bring all your own water and food, as well as camping equipment and firewood, if needed.
For information about the trail or weather conditions, contact the Hans Ranger Station at 435-259-2652.
There’s also plenty to see in the national park, which is just outside the town of Moab. Horseshoe Canyon is about a 2½-hour drive east of there.
More information about Canyonsland can be found at https://www.nps.gov/cany/index.htm.
Many of Deborah Wall’s columns have been compiled into books about hiking in the Southwest. She is also the author of “Great Hikes, a Cerca Country Guide” and a co-author of the book “Access For All, Seeing the Southwest With Limited Mobility.” Wall can be reached at Deborabus@aol.com.
From Boulder City, take U.S. Highway 93/U.S. Highway 95 west and continue on U.S. 95 until it intersects with Interstate 15. Take I-15 north and drive for 250 miles to Interstate 70. Go east and drive 149 miles and go right to Utah State Route 24 west. Follow for 24 miles and go left on the signed Horseshoe Road (just south of Goblin Valley State Park.) Drive about 30 miles, staying left at the obvious fork in the road. The right fork leads to the remote Hans Ranger Station in the Maze District.