Esplanade Rock Art Search - Take 2


March 31 thru April 5, 2020


Because one of my primary objectives of this backpacking trip was to look for rock art, I cannot reveal the exact location of my wanderings.  I would love to show everyone the rock art I found and their locations, but in order to protect and preserve these magnificent sites, I cannot do so with a clear conscience.  This will make for a very brief trip report, consisting mostly photos.  Much of our hike was on the Esplanade, which is a wide bench that is prominent in the western part of Grand Canyon National Park.  We would be hiking mostly in Kanab Creek Wilderness and thus did not need a permit. 

I did this trip in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Both Ben Mahlab and Rich Magill were planning to join me, but the pandemic prevented them from flying.  Several days before the start of this trip, Rob Jones decided to join me.  His previously scheduled Grand Canyon Service trip was cancelled. 

I planned to drive from Taos to the trailhead non-stop, except for one gas stop on the way.  Usually I stay at a motel and eat at restaurants, but not this time.  After filling up with gas in Kayenta, I scrubbed my hands with alcohol before re-entering my car, not forgetting to clean my credit card too. 

I met Rob in Kanab and we drove separately to the trailhead, less than two hours away.  Rob was driving his Subaru, I was driving my 4Runner.  The last section of dirt road was pretty rough.  Rob was worried about puncturing the sidewalls of his tires, which were very vulnerable to the sharp rocks on sections of this road .  He drove slowly and made it without incident.  We stopped to camp about 4 miles from the trailhead.  We cooked our separate dinners and went to bed shortly after dark.  It had been a very long day for me -- over 10 hours of driving.

After breakfast the next morning, we futzed around for a while, organizing our gear.  We then continued in both cars to the trailhead.  But as the road continued to worsen, Rob decided to park his car and continue with me.  I rolled down the windows of my car, put on my N95 mask (I use them in my wood shop), and Rob washed his hands with alcohol before joining me.  We reached the trailhead in less than a half hour.

The rest of this report is mostly photos of rock art.  This rock art is known by some hikers, and has been studied by archeologists.  I have included the published names of the sites, when available.  Two major sources of information (not locations) are:  (1) Rock Art of the Grand Canyon Region by Christensen, Dickey and Freers, and (2) Tumpituxwinap  [Storied Rocks]: Southern Paiute Rock Art in the Colorado River Corridor (Redacted Version 2), published by the University of Arizona.   Another source is from Mary Allen, who discovered many of these sites: 

Click on the rock art sites below to view photos.