Parowan Gap Petroglyphs
The Parowan Gap Petroglyphs site is a must see and a quick detour from I-15 for those traveling south towards Saint George or north to Salt Lake City. This geologic “gap” cut into a mountain was created by an ancient river that once flowed across this stretch of landscape. The Navajo sandstone left exposed became the prefect canvas for the many petroglyphs that can still be seen today. It is said that some of these ancient rock writings were created thousands of years ago by the Fremont, Paiute, and Hopi. Even early Mormon settlers searching for new settlements in southern Utah left their mark. The gap and surrounding area are still considered a sacred site to the Paiute and Hopi people.
Visiting the Petroglyph Site:
From the town of Parowan Utah, the Parowan Gap is approximately 10.5 miles down a nice paved road. Once you reach the site you will find a large parking area fully equipped with a restroom, paved walkways, and informative signs that provide information on the geology, history, and rock art. This area is a great side trip that can be enjoyed in under an hour, depending how long you want to explore.
Native American Rock Art:
The petroglyph gallery includes 90 panels with approximately 1500 figures. Although, there are many different interpretations as to what each petroglyph is and what it means, many of the writings appear to be those of wildlife, including snakes, lizards, bear claws, and mountain sheep. Other writings depict water, and that of a great migration. Native Americans say that petroglyphs are their written language based on Indian sign language. This language is said to be universal among all tribes, and can be read by any tribe throughout North America. This is why you see many symbol similarities throughout Utah and the southwest.
It’s really sad that this even has to be mentioned, but the Parowan Gap Petroglyph site has made the news many times in the last several years due to vandalism. Please do not deface the rock in anyway. Doing so is punishable by law and could become very costly to those that choose to harm this historical site in anyway. Also please don’t touch the petroglyphs as the oil from your skin can harm them. Please report any vandalism to the local BLM office or the Iron County Sheriff office.
There are two ways you can reach the “Gap”. If traveling south from Salt Lake City take I-15 to Parowan, Utah. Take exit 75 and turn right on W 200 S. At the first cross street turn right onto 2200 W. Follow 2200 W to Gap Rd and turn left.
From Cedar City Travel north on Main Street. Follow Main Street into Enoch and onto Minersville Highway. Follow this approximately 12.7 miles north, then as directed by the directional sign for the Parowan Gap, turn right (east). You will be looking directly through the Gap, drive through the Gap and turn left into the designated parking area.
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