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At the end of this season, we spent a few days in Moab with my parents and the theme of this trip was rock art. While the Moonflower Canyon and Birthing Rock Petroglyphs weren’t the very top of my list, they had some tough pictograph competition, I was very excited for the Birthing Rock.
These are the perfect petroglyphs in Moab to find if you only have an hour or two because they’re right along the road and very easy to find. They may not be the weirdest out there, but they’re certainly worth visiting. It’s the perfect addition to a southern Utah road trip or Trail of the Ancients road trip.
These were on my Utah bucket list, but looking back at the pictures of them before we went, I was pretty meh on stopping at them, but once I realized they were on the way to the Birthing Rock I figured we might as well stop.
So we get to the parking area which is well marked and head into the canyon where we thing the petroglyphs are. SPOILER ALERT: they are not. We parked in the camping area and if wee drove like, ten feet further, we would have seen the petroglyphs and a sign for their parking. Insert facepalm emoji here.
It’s not the most exciting petroglyph panel in the area, but it’s still worth a quick stop. It includes carvings from the Archaic to Formative periods and you can read more about it on the sign there. There is also a log ladder to the left of the panel that you can climb up if you feel comfortable doing so. I did not, so I didn’t. At least not this time.
How to get to the Moonflower Petroglyphs
From Moab, turn onto Kane Creek Boulevard right next to McDonald’s and Burger King. You’ll stay on that road for about 3.1 miles and you’ll see a parking area for it on the right.
The first parking area is technically the camping parking area, but that’s where we parked. The petroglyphs are to the right of the parking lot right by the road, not in the canyon.
Moonflower Canyon: Things to know
- The petroglyphs are not in the canyon! They’re right next to the road on the rock wall with a fence in front of it and a sign by them.
- They are free to visit.
- There is camping in Moonflower Canyon. There are 8 tent only sites (no RV’s) and are $8 per night. It is open year round. I’m not sure if there is a bathroom. I don’t remember seeing one.
- There is a hiking trail into the canyon, but it’s kind of short. It’s a good way to get out of the sun, though.
Birthing Rock Petroglyphs
Now this panel I was excited about. I mean, how often do you get to see a petroglyph of a birthing scene? Not very. That is the main highlight of this stop and a must-add bucket list site, but there are other petroglyphs on the other three sides of the rock as well.
There aren’t as many on the other sides. There is a sign to tell you a little more about it by the fence. This one is super easy to get to and the perfect way to spend a spare hour or two.
You can see a few different things on the main panel besides the birth (being done feet first!) Next to the mother you’ll find what I call The Doctor.
You can also see centipedes, what might be some tiny footprints (between the mother and the doctor), bear paws, and someone doing a handstand. Just keep in mind, none of these are official interpretations, just what I think they look like.
How to get to the Birthing Rock Petroglyphs
From Moab, turn onto Kane Creek Boulevard between McDonald’s and Burger King and follow it for about 6.1 miles. After a while the road does turn to dirt, but it’s an easy road that any car could manage. It may be tougher if it is wet or rainy, though, so keep that in mind.
It’s really easy to find because it’s a giant square boulder on the right side of the road with a fence around it. You can see pictures of it above. There is a good sized dirt pulloff just after the rock and you can park there. It’s a short, easy walk down to the rock itself.
Things to keep in mind when visiting 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 Verde, Edge of the Cedars, and Anasazi Museum all have ruins you can enter.
- And finally, don’t carve in or write on the rocks! I don’t want to have to say this, but I need to fo sho.
While it may not be the coolest rock art ever (mostly Moonflower, Birthing Rock is pretty cool) these are really fun petroglyphs to see in Moab and I would definitely recommend them if you have the time or love archaeology.
Books to read before visiting the Four Corners area:
- The Bears Ears
- In Search of the Old Ones
- The Lost World of the Old Ones
- House of Rain
- Finders Keepers
- Monkey Wrench Gang
- Hayduke Lives
- Desert Solitaire
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Have you seen the Birthing Rock? What’s your favorite petroglyph? Do you like seeing rock art?