Early Peoples

Fremont pictograph; series of rust red triangles resembling a person on sand colored rock.
Fremont pictorgraph. Remember, if you come across any evidence of early peoples in American Fork Canyon-don't touch, deface or remove! Take a picture and/or note the location and share with a ranger. New discoveries help paint a bigger picture of our understanding of early peoples.


For several thousand years, the first people of the area were heavily influenced by the climate. The Paleo-Indian people (12,000 BC) hunted large animals, and likely stayed near the shores of Utah Lake in the cool climate. As the climate warmed, Archaic people (~10,000 BC-AD 1) maintained a lifestyle of hunting and gathering. Excavations in other caves in American Fork canyon show that hunters used some caves as a base camp for hunting in the canyon.

From AD 1 to 500, a cultural shift occurred, and the Archaic hunter gatherers were replaced by Fremont farming communities. The Fremont people built small farming villages across the valley where they grew corn, squash and beans. Excavations in American Fork Cave have found ceramics, cordage, ground stone and corn kernels associated with the Fremont people.

As the climate cooled again around 1300 AD the Fremont people abandoned their farming way of life. Those remaining returned to hunting and gathering, and are possibly the ancestors of the Utes. The Timpanogos Utes or Utah Valley Utes inhabited the valley using American Fork Canyon to hunt big game and gather berries.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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American Fork, UT 84003



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