Canyonlands National Park
Horseshoe Canyon, a detached unit of Canyonlands National Park, was added in 1971. Its intriguing rock art is considered by many to be the most significant in North America. Other impressive sights include spring wildflowers, sheer sandstone walls, and magnificent cottonwood trees which shade the canyon floor.
Native American rock art found here is most commonly painted in a style know as Barrier Canyon, believed to date to the Late Archaic period (1700 B.C. to A.D. 500). The Fremont and Anasazi Indian cultures also left their own distinctive rock art in the canyon, but their presence was brief in comparison and by A.D. 1300, they had left the area. The Great Gallery, the best known and most spectacular panel in Horseshoe Canyon, includes well-preserved, life-sized figures with intricate designs.
While Horseshoe Canyon is most famous for its rock art, the canyon's history does not end there. Hundreds of years after the prehistoric artists left the area, European settlers arrived, followed by outlaws, sheep and cattle ranchers, oil prospectors and, today, park visitors.
At Horseshoe Canyon, visitors may camp at the west rim trailhead on public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The Great Gallery is a 6.5 mile round trip hike from the park boundary, with a descent of 750 feet, and requires roughly six hours. The canyon is limited to day use within the park boundary. Horse use is allowed with a free day use permit; special pack and saddle stock regulations apply. Pets are prohibited.
How to get there
Horseshoe Canyon is 32 miles east of Utah Highway 24 via a two-wheel-drive road. There are no facilities, potable water sources, or entrance fees.
Rangers lead guided hikes through Horseshoe Canyon spring through fall. Call park information or inquire at the Hans Flat Ranger Station for dates and times.
Horseshoe Canyon is an archaeological district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The area is protected by federal law. Do not touch any rock art or remove artifacts from the canyon.
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