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  • Writer's pictureDan Wagner

Explore Utah's Courthouse Wash Rock Art

Likely the most unique rock art site inside Arches National Park, Courthouse Wash Rock Art is a low effort, big reward spot to explore. The pictographs here are stunning. More than a dozen human-like figures can be found on the large panel, all painted in Barrier Canyon style thousands of years ago by the Archaic Indians. Their color has faded a bit over time, but they're still in remarkably good condition. Millennia later, the Utes painted white shield-like images over a few of the red tapered figures, but what makes this site unique can in large part be thanked to vandalism. After douche canoes vandalized the panel in 1980, the NPS performed restoration work, which in the process revealed older pictographs beneath the white shield-like images.

Courthouse Wash Pictographs

Trailhead elevation 3,892'

Water None

Don't miss parking roadside to limit the walk

Hiking to Courthouse Wash Rock Art

Google Maps has Courthouse Wash Rock Art as a waypoint so just use that for directions. Parking is permitted along UT-191 near coordinates 38.6068211, -109.5822578, which is the quickest way to get to the site. If you're not comfortable parking along the road, the Courthouse Wash Trail parking area is 0.4 miles east. Assuming you park along the road, you'll find a well-defined trail leading away from the road on the other side of the all-purpose trail as soon as you exit your vehicle.

Courthouse Wash Pictographs

At the top of the small hill, the trail turns right and you'll see the formation in the photo below.

Courthouse Wash Pictographs

Follow the trail until it ends near the base of the formation and then scramble up the rocks to find the panel, which is located near the base of a cliff. Very simple. Before reaching the panel, you'll encounter a NPS sign that shows what the panel looked like before being vandalized in 1980. Images of the pictographs, historical information, and a photo of the vandalism can also be found on the sign.

Courthouse Wash Pictographs

The pictographs continue down the panel, but are much more faded, likely the result of experiencing more sun exposure than those further to the right. Petroglyphs, likely carved by Utes, can be found on the left side of the panel and on a large boulder below the panel.

Courthouse Wash Pictographs

The panel sits just inside Arches National Park's southern boundary, but requires no fees or passes to get to. Once you've had your oohs and aahs simply return the way you came.


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