Touring the Byway
4 Days/ 3 Nights | Gateway City: Grand Junction, Colorado

It is very rare that an ancient culture leaves a whole pictorial record behind. One appears in ancient Egypt, another in the Middle East. Lesser known is the record left by the Fremont culture on thousands of rock art sites, petroglyphs carved into the rock surface and pictographs painted on the rock. Traveling the entire Dinosaur Diamond Scenic and Historic Byway, in Utah called the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway, is a fascinating journey, especially if Native American rock art, surrounded by spectacular scenery, is of interest. Your journey to over 15 premier locations begins in Grand Junction at the Museum of the West, before heading to Sego Canyon and Arches National Park. 

View the Detailed Itinerary below to see the full route, which is complete with dining, shopping, and lodging recommendations!

Highlighted Attractions

Nine Mile Canyon

Imagine driving through an art gallery that is miles, not blocks log.46 miles to be exact, where drawings, paintings and carvings emerge as a panorama of visual delight. The “World’s Longest Art Gallery” the crowning glory of rock art in southeastern Utah, is Nine Mile Canyon, a Bureau of Land Management Back Country Byway tucked between the curves of Dinosaur Diamond National Scenic Byway. Within this visual textbook of life in the many cultures that have occupied the area, most of the rock art panels were left by the Fremont culture, who lived in the canyon 1,000 years ago.In fact, there is speculation that the Great Hunt Panel illustrates a real battle. In total, there are 10,000 individual images, spread out in over 1,000 archaeological sites.Before you leave Wellington, be sure to make sure your gas tank is full and bring along any snacks or beverages you want to enjoy.As you travel, leave no trace, never touch the art or add anything. Don’t disturb the rocks or rub chalk over any of the images.These are millenniums old irreplaceable cultural resources. Enjoy your journey through this one of a kind art experience.
Arches National Park Pictographs

Arches National Park

Amidst the astounding rock arches of Arches National Park, the highest concentration of these astounding natural phenomenon in the world, you’ll discover petroglyphs at Wolfe Ranch which depicts riders on horseback created in the period when horses were being introduced into America by the Spanish. The rock art at Courthouse Wash dates from the archaic Native Americans similar to the time period of the earliest art in Sego Canyon.  Painted in the Barrier Canyon style, the rock art was later enhanced by later civilizations.  One panel that was vandalized and restored revealed layer upon layer of pictographs painted over the millenniums.  It must have been a way to update the news.
Colorado National Monument White Rocks Rock Art Site

Colorado National Monument

Best known for its protected and preserved grand landscape of the West, Colorado National Monument displays colorful sheer-walled canyons and fascinating rock sculptures, the purple-gray Book Cliffs, and the huge flat-topped mountain called Grand Mesa. The White Rocks Rock Art Site, which depicts family life in the area is reached from the trailhead of Gold Star Canyon. The monument’s 23-mile Rim Rock Drive is one of the most spectacular drives in the United States. Redrock canyons, crisp blue skies, and verdant green juniper splash fantastic views along the way. However, the road is challenging, narrow, and steep and special caution should be used on tight corners and hills. 

Flaming Gorge-Uintas National Scenic Byway

If there’s time while you are in Vernal, take a side trip on the Flaming Gorge-Uintas National Scenic Byway, which gets its name from the cliffs of blazing red rock of the Flaming Gorge, looming above the Green River. Along the way expect to see wildlife surrounded by scenic beauty. Twelve interpretive panels reveal the story of the Byway along the way. 

Dinosaur National Monument

Even though Dinosaur National Monument is most famous for dinosaur remains, the monument is also filled with both petroglyphs and pictographs created by the Fremont people.  The “classic Vernal style” is characterized by humanlike figures, animal-like figures, and abstract designs.  Science has not yet revealed why they were created.  Most of the rock art locations are accessible from the Quarry Visitor Center entrance.

Museum of The West

Thousands of years of history in Western Colorado is revealed at the Museum of the West, one of the magnificent collection of Western Colorado Museums, known for their high-quality exhibits. You can “ride” in a stagecoach, “fly” on a 1958 Cessna, marvel at ancient Anasazi pottery, venture into a uranium mine, follow a timeline of Western history and more. The Lloyd Files Research Library holds a wealth of historical, genealogical and natural history materials. Freemont and Ute rock art here introduces you to this unique art form. 

Sego Canyon

The Fremont people lived in Sego Canyon between 600 A.D. and 1250 A.D. Yet, they are not the area’s earliest people.  Rock art created by the Fremont culture peacefully coexists with rock art created in 7,000 B.C. and 2,000 B.C., when the area was occupied by the most ancient ancestral people that settled the area.  Examples of art from the different periods are relatively accessible from the canyon entrance.

Canyon Pintado

Hundreds of archeological sites from the Fremont culture appear in Canyon Pintado or “Painted Canyon,” a 17 mile stretch of US Highway 139 managed by the Bureau of Land Management.  Seven of the premier locations: Waving Hands Site, Kokopelli Site, White Birds Site, Cow Canyon Site, East Four Mile Draw, Hoodoo Site and Lookout Point, are available to view. 
Moab Rock Art Sites on the Moab Rock Art Tour

Moab Rock Art Tour

The Birthing Scene is a large boulder with rock art on all four sides, with figures and designs ranging from the formative to the historic Ute period. The birthing scene faces the road. The Kane Creek Boulevard Rock Art is located at the mouth of Moon Flower Canyon, on a rock cliff dating from the archaic to formative period of Native American settlements in the area. The Golf Course Rock Art Site is approximately 4 miles from the corner of Main and Center in downtown Moab.  Designs appear in a panel nearly 90 feet wide and 30 feet high.

Uintah County Heritage Museum

Experts at the Uintah County Heritage Museum believe that Native American rock in the area are much more than random doodles. The images reflect aesthetic, magical, religious, historical, and astronomical elements as the artists attempted to explore their understanding of daily life and depict what they experienced. Visit here to learn more about the ancient rock art and the culture that surrounded it.

To experience all that Native American Rock Art has to offer, download the complete itinerary! 

The detailed itinerary includes: