By Michael Lanza

Here’s how you reach the best prehistoric Indian rock art in America: From Utah Highway 24, a remote two-lane bisecting the inhospitable desert between the rugged spine of the San Rafael Reef and the deep and isolated canyons of the Green and Dirty Devil rivers, turn east onto a dirt road at a small, easily overlooked sign for Horseshoe Canyon. (Reference point: It’s a tenth of a mile south of the turnoff for Goblin Valley State Park.) Drive about an hour on that sometimes rocky, sometimes sandy road—which can become impassable in heavy rain or when wind piles sand drifts across the road, and where a few roadside signs are the only indicators of civilization—to the West Rim Trailhead.

Then hike down into Horseshoe Canyon and nearly three miles up canyon to a panel of rock art that will reduce even the most seasoned pictograph and petroglyph hunters to awed silence.

The Great Gallery pictographs of Horseshoe Canyon in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park.
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” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/DSC_5186-copy.jpg?fit=300%2C103&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/DSC_5186-copy.jpg?fit=900%2C309&ssl=1″ width=”900″ height=”309″ src=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/DSC_5186-copy.jpg?resize=900%2C309&ssl=1″ alt=”The Great Gallery pictographs of Horseshoe Canyon in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park.” class=”wp-image-48153″ srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/DSC_5186-copy.jpg?resize=1024%2C352&ssl=1 1024w, https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/DSC_5186-copy.jpg?resize=300%2C103&ssl=1 300w, https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/DSC_5186-copy.jpg?resize=768%2C264&ssl=1 768w, https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/DSC_5186-copy.jpg?resize=150%2C52&ssl=1 150w, https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/DSC_5186-copy.jpg?w=1200&ssl=1 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />The Great Gallery pictographs of Horseshoe Canyon in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park.

My family and another did just that on a weeklong trip to southeastern Utah. The nearly seven-mile, out-and-back dayhike of Horseshoe Canyon, a district of Canyonlands National Park, features red rock walls rising up to about 200 feet tall. But the hike’s main attraction are four pictograph panels, including one widely considered the “most significant” preserved example of prehistoric rock art in America.


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A detail of the Great Gallery pictographs in Horseshoe Canyon, Canyonlands National Park.
” data-image-caption=”A detail of the Great Gallery pictographs in Horseshoe Canyon, Canyonlands National Park.
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