Photo Essay

No Trespassing - The Destruction of Nine Mile Canyon

'Nine Mile Canyon - The Truth'

There are more images of Petroglyphs/Pictographs here:

These images exemplify what has happened and continuing to, at Nine Mile Canyon, Utah. I Will be writing about the trip to 9 Mile Canyon, what I found there to be incredibly inspiring and also what part has been devastated by modern graffiti, past graffiti from Pioneers and that which continues to be damaged by Oil/Natural Gas drilling in the canyon.

We reached the canyon after 30 miles of rough dirt road, a 3 hour trek towing our little trailer; we were exhausted but could feel the excitement of entering the canyon and the glyphs were everywhere you looked.

I now knew why this canyon was dubbed the longest outdoor ancient gallery in the world. Wiki: "Nine Mile Canyon is a canyon, approximately 40 miles (60 km) long, located in the counties of Carbon and Duchesne in eastern Utah, in the Western United States. Promoted as "the world's longest art gallery," the canyon is known for its extensive rock art, most of it created by the Fremont culture and the Ute people. The rock art, shelters, and granaries left behind by the Fremont make Nine Mile Canyon a destination for archaeologists and tourists alike."

After a restless nights sleep, we woke early, got the gear together and headed out to document and explore the canyon. I grew up in the area, but had never been to Nine Mile Canyon, since it was all private property when I lived south of there, back in the 80's.

On every single possible rock face with dark patina, there were glyphs. There were also many pictographs under the overhanging rock outcroppings. It was astounding how many there were! The entire day was spent scrambling through brush, driving slowly and climbing cliff faces to get to the Rock Art. I was very careful not to disturb anything, as the ecosystem was already severely damaged by so many that had traipsed the land prior to myself.

40 miles of twisting high canyon dirt road was an entire days journey, and stopping at each outcropping was like finding treasure in an ancient archaeological geocaching adventure!

The Glyphs were absolutely remarkable, as I documented all that I could find. Sadly 90% of the glyphs were damaged from dust, modern graffiti and bullet holes. It was devastating to come across such beautiful ancient art with: "Persons Name 1885" carved next to or on top of a beautiful pictograph. Bullet holes are in more than 90% of the glyphs, most of which I tried to avoid in my photos. Some I simply had to remove as they destroyed the glyphs completely.

This is one of the secret places in Utah, that must be protected from further damage and preferably restored. In the past few years, natural gas drilling and oil extraction has been a controversial problem in the canyon. The Bill Barrett Corporation is doing the best they can to keep dust down, but with such poor dirt roads, it's nearly impossible to stop more destruction. I think the balance would be to pave the entire canyon and promote it as a must see destination for tourism. This would help improve the area and create funding to help control & curb more damage here.

Next Stop: Range Creek - A massive untouched valley of ancient cultures that has been completely undisturbed by modern man.

VOTE: Do you like this story?

Tell a friend about this story!

Tell a friend about this story!

  1. or

Hi there!

thought you might like this story!

—The JPG team

7 responses

  • Gail Anderson

    Gail Anderson said (21 Jul 2010):

    There are a few sites around Vegas that we enjoy visiting. Always feel so grounded and filled with wonder when exploring these sites. It's terrible how people are not respectful and destroy these amazing writings of the Ancients. Nice story and beautiful photos... this gets my vote!

  • jen bellefleur

    jen bellefleur gave props (22 Jul 2010):

    these are gorgeous images. i love them. i love the place, and want to be there. thank you for documenting and caring about this. xoj

  • Kevin Kabuki

    Kevin Kabuki gave props (22 Jul 2010):

    How sickening to see "No Trespassing" painted over the petroglyph. What kind of a person would do that? Your photos may, unfortunately, become historically important. I'm more than glad you took the time to do this.

  • Kevin House

    Kevin House gave props (22 Jul 2010):

    super series!

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (28 Jul 2010):

    Hell YEAH! Rad!

  • dp *

    dp * gave props (25 Aug 2010):

    Wonderful story and great shots! RAD for sure !

  • patrick john o'doherty

    patrick john o'doherty said (12 May 2011):

    Thank you for this great essay. I really hope i get to see this one day and spend some quiet time contemplating life and humanity.

Want to leave a comment? Log in or sign up!