The Stories Behind Dinosaurland’s “Writing on the Walls”

The McConkie Ranch Petroglyph Panel

Date: July 19, 2023

Categories: Hiking

Dinosaurland’s petroglyphs are a window into the region’s rich cultural history. These ancient rock carvings, created by the native peoples who once inhabited the area, offer insight into their beliefs, practices and daily lives.

One of the most famous and well-preserved examples of this art form can be found at McConkie Ranch outside of Vernal.

What Are The McConkie Ranch Petroglyphs?

The McConkie Ranch Petroglyphs were created by the Fremont culture, a prehistoric Native American people who lived in the region from around 1 to 1350 AD.

The Fremont people were known for their elaborate artistry in pottery, weaving, basketry and petroglyphs.

The petroglyphs at McConkie Ranch, which consist of over 1,000 individual images, were created by carving into the smooth sandstone walls of the canyon.

The images at McConkie Ranch Petroglyphs depict a range of subjects, including animals, humans and abstract designs.

Some of the most common images include bighorn sheep, snakes, birds and human figures with elaborate headdresses. Many of the images are positioned in areas that are difficult to access, suggesting that they had a spiritual significance for the Fremont people.

What do they mean?

The meaning behind these petroglyphs is still a subject of much debate among scholars and historians.

Some experts believe that the petroglyphs were created as part of religious or spiritual ceremonies, while others suggest that they may have been used to mark hunting or gathering sites. Still, others believe that the petroglyphs were simply a form of artistic expression, created for their own sake.

The Fremont people were known to have a deep spiritual connection to the land and were attuned to the rhythms of the natural world. The placement of many of the petroglyphs in areas that are difficult to access, and the fact that some are positioned in such a way as to only be visible during certain times of the day or year, suggest that they had a deep reverence for the environment around them.

The Fremont culture was a unique and complex society that left behind many cultural artifacts, including petroglyphs, pottery and woven textiles.

The petroglyphs at McConkie Ranch are just one example of the rich artistic legacy of the Fremont people.

What to know before you go

The entire site is on private land, but the McConkie family has opened the ranch for anyone wanting to see the beautiful historic art in person.

There is a small welcome center with printed information about the site and a box for donations. The family maintains two trails to the petroglyphs which together take about two hours to complete.

When you visit, remember to follow leave no trace practices and do your part to keep these petroglyphs exactly how you found them, so generations after us can enjoy these stunning works of art.

While the petroglyphs themselves are a marvel to behold, they are also a reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting our shared cultural heritage, for future generations to enjoy and learn from.