Witch Zapping Reindeer, Or The 100 Hands Pictograph in Escalante

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How I went two years without knowing about this hike and these petroglyphs is beyond me.  The 100 Hands Pictograph hike in Escalante is a great, short hike if you’re just passing through the park.   It’s right along the main road so you don’t have to make the perilous journey down Hole in the Rock Road.


After scouring GJhikes, one of the best sites for finding hikes in the Southwest US, for cool hikes within a couple hours of Bullfrog, I found the 100 Hands Pictograph and knew I needed to go see it.

It was a short hike right off the main road and after camping on Boulder Mountain, driving Hells Backbone scenic backway, we decided to do the hike on our way home.


We found a parking spot near the Escalante River Trailhead and set off following the directions of the post on GJhikes.  There is a small trail in the beginning, then it kind of stops and you have to find your way along the rest of it, which isn’t bad since it’s mostly in a wash. 

It was pretty easy, until we got to the part where we had to climb out “at the juniper tree.”  Uhh, ok.  There’s only a million of those out here.

The juniper tree you climb out at is near this rock

No, no.  It wasn’t that bad, but we did hesitate at this part.  For some reason I thought it was to the right, but I couldn’t find anything.  It’s on the left and there are a few cairns marking the part where you climb up.

I’ve marked the picture near the juniper tree to hopefully help you.  From there, continue to the left around the base of the big rock formation and you’ll be at the first petroglyph panel in no time.


On this one you can see some bighorn sheep that someone tried to carve out as a souvenir.  Please, don’t do this!  It’s vandalism and ruins it for other people. 

I love seeing petroglyphs, but was disappointed when we saw these because of all the scratched up squares.  Just admire the petroglyphs and move on to see the next thing, the highlight, the 100 hands pictograph.


This is up pretty high, so it’s hard to really get a great look at it.  Maybe you can climb up to it, but it’s super steep, so I didn’t even try.  I would have had a heck of a time getting back down.

You can still see it well enough, though, so don’t skip it because you can’t get right up to it.  I really enjoyed seeing this.  I’ve been fascinated by ruins and archaeological sites since reading Finders Keepers earlier this summer.


Finally, onto the last sight, and my favorite, the witch zapping reindeer petroglyph panel.  I have no idea whatsoever what this is depicting, but from the title of the post, you can obviously tell what I think it is.

We hung out up here for a bit, not long because it was SO HOT, before heading back down.  It was really only 82 degrees, but in the sun with no breeze it felt like 102.  I would highly recommend doing this early in the morning, later evening, or not in the summer.


On our way down we stopped and dipped our feet into the surprisingly cool Escalante River before heading for home.  Overall I enjoyed this hike and am glad I did it.  It’s the perfect hike in Escalante if you have limited time and are just passing through but still want to see something in the park.

It’s also great if you don’t want to drive down the horrible Hole in the Rock Road.  Plus, I don’t think tons of people know about this hike because it wasn’t busy at all.  We saw one guy and his dog at the top, so we basically had it to ourselves.


Things to keep in mind when visiting rock art & ruins:

  • Do not touch the rock art (pictographs or petroglyphs) because the oils on our fingers can degrade them.
  • If you find artifacts, do not take them.  Leave them where they are and just take pictures.
  • If there are structures (rooms, kivas, anything like that) don’t enter them unless it is stated that you can.  Most places you can’t but national and state parks will have restored structures you can enter.  Mesa VerdeEdge of the Cedars, and Anasazi Museum all have ruins you can enter.
  • And finally, don’t carve in or write or paint or draw on the rocks!  I don’t want to have to say this, but I need to for real.

How long is the 100 Hands Pictograph hike?

Just one mile round-trip! This is a great short hike in Escalante, perfect for stretching your legs on a long drive through Utah. It’s right off of Scenic Byway 12 making it super easy to stop for.


Is the 100 Hands Pictograph hike hard?

The hardest part is occasionally finding the trail itself. The actual difficulty of the trail (elevation) isn’t terrible. It has 295 feet of elevation gain but it is short so I suppose it’s relative. Overall, it’s not hard and most people should be able to do this no problem.


Is the 100 Hands Pictograph trail worth it?

Yes! I liked it a lot and it’s a good way to escape the crowds on busier trails like Lower Calf Creek Falls. It’s cool rock art and a fairly easy hike. Just remember it’s all in direct sun so it can get super hot.


Other things to do in Escalante

There are so many things to do in Escalante, but a lot of them are pretty remote or take a lot of time and hiking experience. But some of the easier things to do in Escalante are hiking to Lower Calf Creek Falls, visiting the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, hike to Willis Creek Slot Canyon, or visit Kodachrome Basin State Park.

If you want to do another hike from this same spot, you can hike along the Escalante River and see even more rock art! I haven’t done that yet but would love to. That would be a great hike for a hot day since you have to cross the river a lot.


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