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  • Writer's pictureDan Wagner

The Mysterious Snake in Mouth Pictograph Panel

An easy, fairly straightforward day hike leading to a very interesting pictograph panel fifteen minutes outside of downtown Moab. The unique characteristic of this panel is the snake that was painted in the main figure's mouth millennia ago during the Archaic Period. There is a considerable amount of rock art in the area, including the Intestine Man site and Sevenmile Canyon, among others, but for this article we'll focus on the Snake in Mouth Panel exclusively.

Snake in Mouth pictograph

Trailhead elevation 4,606'

Water None

Don't miss the boulder containing petroglyphs and pictographs

Hiking to Snake in Mouth

Parking for the Snake in Mouth Panel is located on the north side of Rt 313, about 2.8 miles from Rt 191 near coordinates 38.648343, -109.723907. Here you'll find a small, six or so vehicle pull off that doubles as the parking area for the popular Intestine Man site. After parking, cross Rt 313 where you'll find an unsigned, but well-worn trail leading away from the road.

Snake in Mouth Moab

After a short distance on the trail you'll arrive at a gate where you can easily pass through. After passing through the gate follow the trail left down into the wash and make a right.

Follow the wash until you see a larger wash 50' to your right and then cross over both washes. After crossing over both washes, look for a faint trail leading to the alcove high above in the photo below. If you can't find the trail, just head towards the alcove, but be cautious not to trample on any cryptobiotic soil.

Once you reach the slickrock slope below the alcove, the easiest way up is from center right. Once up top there is a wide ledge that you can walk along to get to the panel.

How far down the ledge the pictograph panel is depends on where you ascend the slope, but it's easy to spot. It's located about two-thirds of the way down the left side of the alcove. The Barrier Canyon style panel features two anthropomorphic figures, one holding a third human-like figure, three vertical lines, three snakes, one inside the panels namesake depiction, and an indistinguishable image above all of them.

Snake in Mouth pictograph

Below is a close up showing the snake inside the main figure's mouth. The snake and what are presumably the figure's eyeballs were painted with a blueish-green pigment, while the body was painted in red ochre.

Snake in Mouth pictograph

A close up photo of the snake's head to the left of the main figure shows that its eye and at least some of its body were painted in the same bluish-green pigment.

Snake in Mouth pictograph

The photo below gives a bit of context to the size of the panel.

Snake in Mouth pictograph

Further down the ledge you'll find a boulder containing both petroglyphs and faded pictographs. The petroglyphs are depictions of snakes and concentric circles and the pictographs contain human-like depictions and other indistinguishable images.

Snake in Mouth pictograph

Before you leave the site, consider taking in the view to the west, which is pretty great. I didn't find any other rock art in the alcove other than the main panel and on the boulder, but after you return to your vehicle you should definitely check out the petroglyphs and pictographs at the Intestine Man site on the north side of the road you parked on. Pretty interesting rock art there as well. As mentioned near the top of this article, there is a considerable amount of rock art in neighboring Seven Mile Canyon, but we'll cover that in a separate article.


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