• Double O Arch

    Arches

    National Park Utah

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  • Delicate Arch Viewpoint Inaccessible

    Wolfe Ranch and the hiking trail to Delicate Arch are open, but flood waters and mud have blocked the road to Delicate Arch Viewpoint.

  • Safety in Bear Country

    Black bears have been seen near Devils Garden Campground. Don't lure or feed them. Dispose of trash in designated receptacles; don't leave it in bags or other soft containers. Store food in vehicles or hard containers when not being prepared or consumed. More »

Courthouse Wash Panel

Courthouse Wash Panel
Pictograph panel before 1980 defacement and restoration
NPS photo
 

Rock art is often found at crossroads and near waterways. One such site can be seen a few miles north of Moab, where Courthouse Wash joins the Colorado River. This large and colorful panel displays evidence of people's passage for hundreds of years.

Although rock art cannot be dated, it is thought that Archaic Indians first painted the long, tapered figures in what archeologists call the Barrier Canyon style. Later, ancestral Puebloans or Utes added bright white circular forms that resemble shields. Petroglyphs - images pecked, incised or abraded on stone - by Utes appear elsewhere on the wall and adjacent boulder, and on the walkway below.

In 1980, this ancient rock art was vandalized. The National Park Service cleaned the panel, and restoration work revealed older pictographs beneath the white shields. While the original brilliant pigments are gone forever, their absence provided an opportunity to use new technologies to gather additional information about the panel. In 2008, as part of the Multi-Spectral Imaging Project, the panel was photographed in the infrared spectrum, and a comparison with a regular photograph revealed figures not previously visible to the naked eye. Archeologists are using this exciting information to establish a new baseline from which to monitor change in the panel and analyze the order in which individual elements were painted.

 
Courthouse Wash panel, visible light
Panel photographed in visible light
Photo by Bud F. Turner, WildLight Photography
 
Courthouse Wash panel, infrared light
Panel photographed in infrared light
Photo by Bud F. Turner, WildLight Photography
 

Most damage to rock art is done inadvertantly. Help preserve rock art by not touching it, and by not leaving marks or graffiti on this or other canyon walls.

Did You Know?

Detail of petroglyph panel

Native Americans never inhabited Arches on a year-round basis, though they certainly roamed the area searching for wild game, useful plants and rocks for tool-making. Petroglyphs near Wolfe Ranch are thought to have been created by Indians from the Ute/Paiute cultures. More...