Petroglyph Canyon Zion: Hike To The Secret Petroglyphs Of Zion

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One of the things I knew I had to do on our winter trip to Zion was hike the short Petroglyph Canyon Trail because I love rock art and will probably try to see it anywhere if I know it’s there. I just love it.

The only issue was, the Petroglyph Canyon Trail is on the east side of Zion and we weren’t prepared for the amount of snow that was left on that side of the park from a recent snowfall.

All photos are in order of the hike in to kind of show the way.

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Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah

The first part of the trail once you’re down the hill is in Pine Creek and it wasn’t entirely frozen over so we almost turned back but we decided to keep going. It was mostly frozen after that first little section.

We had done a different hike earlier in the day and had some time before dark so we headed off to find Petroglyph Canyon. This is a hike that isn’t advertised pretty much at all in the park (understandably) but the rangers will tell you about it if you ask.

Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah

If you do decide to do this hike, just please be respectful of the site, don’t leave trash, don’t scratch the walls, don’t steal the petroglyphs, you get it. Visit responsibly.

Back to the trail. After making it to the parking area, we had to make our way down the slick rock to the creek but the slick rock was pretty snowy and a little icy. It wasn’t so bad we had to turn around but actual snow boots would have been better.

Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah
The mostly frozen Pine Creek

Once we got down to the creek, we had to find the most frozen parts as we made our way under the road, through the drainage tunnel bridge thing. This will be on your right on your way down from the road.

After the tunnel, the creek was pretty much all frozen but the ice would kind of break so we crushed our way through the frozen creek until we made it to the side trail that leads to the petroglyphs, which is on the left.

Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah
The tunnel you go through

From the creek you can see a little dirt trail leading to a brown hiking register right along the rock wall. You’ll see a wood fence on both sides of it and the petroglyphs are right behind there!

We went to the right first which is where the guys with the backpacks are. I know that’s probably not what they are, but its what I’m going with. I loved the backpack guys, almost as much as the baby bighorn sheeps coming up.

Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah
The view to the left of the register

You can see tons of different figures along here and, like I already said, please respect the site and stay on the outside of the fence. It’s there for a reason. These panels were made about 1000 years ago by the Anasazi or Southern Paiute.

Once we got to the end of the right panel we kept walking a bit. We made it to a frozen waterfall with some boulders and hung out there for a bit before turning around to see the left panel.

Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah
To the right of the register

This panel is under more of an overhang that was lined with icicles so we had to stay back a little further since we didn’t want to get impaled by any falling ones.

This is where we got to see the baby bighorn sheeps! I’ve seen a good number of petroglyphs with regular bighorn sheep but I can’t remember seeing baby bighorn sheep petroglyphs before and they were SO cute!

Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah

Those alone were worth doing the hike for but that could just be personal preference. There aren’t quite as many on this side but be sure not to miss them before you leave the trail.

After admiring the rock art, we headed back out to the car to head back to Springdale for dinner. Overall, I really liked the Petroglyph Canyon Trail in Zion, sometimes called the “secret petroglyphs of Zion” and would definitely recommend the short stop to see them.

Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah

National Park Goodies

Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah
The frozen waterfall where we turned around

National Park Goodies

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.
Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah
Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah

Where is the Zion Petroglyph Canyon Trailhead?

The Petroglyph Canyon Trailhead isn’t marked at all but it is easy to find. It’s on the east side of the park (the side of the tunnel away from Springdale) and it’s the only parking area with a log fence. These are the coordinates for the parking area: 37.224805, -112.909215

The trailhead is 8.9 miles from the Zion National Park Visitor Center and just 2.6 miles from the east entrance. From Springdale, the parking area will be on your right and from the east entrance it will be on your left.

Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah
The guys with the backpacks
Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah

How long is the Petroglyph Canyon hike in Zion?

The hike to the “secret petroglyphs” in Zion is about 0.6 miles round-trip and it’s nice and easy. The trail is really easy to follow even if it isn’t well-marked (according to AllTrails reviews.)

From the parking area, you literally just make your way down to the wash/creek and follow it under the road until you see the little brown hiking register thing on your left where there is a trail right by the petroglyphs. It’s not hard to follow.

Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah
Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah

Is the Petroglyph Canyon Trail in Zion worth it?

Yes! It’s quick and easy and I think the rock art is particularly fun. There are some guys with backpacks and even baby bighorn sheeps! I’ve never seen baby bighorn sheep petroglyphs and I love these so much.

There are about 150 figures between the two panels, some easier to see than others. It’s a nice easy walk to get off the beaten path in Zion and doesn’t take too much time, maybe 30-45 minutes at most. I think even with one busy day in Zion, you could easily squeeze this in at the beginning or end.

Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah
Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah

Can you hike Petroglyph Canyon in Zion year-round?

Yes! Just know that you may have to get your feet wet in the spring, summer, and fall and the water may or may not be frozen over in the winter. Flash floods can affect this area in monsoon season, so be aware of that. I’ve seen a flash flood here so I know it happens.

Are there other petroglyphs in Zion National Park?

Yes but most of them are kept pretty underwraps to help preserve them. One that is easy to find (we haven’t stopped at these yet) are the South Gate Petroglyphs right across from the South Campground.

They can be found 50-100 yards from the south entrance to the park (by Springdale) near a giant flat boulder called Sacrifice Rock. There is no parking here but there is a trail to an NPS sign marking the petroglyphs. You can find out more about petroglyphs in and around Zion here.

Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah
Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah

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Have you hiked the Petroglyph Canyon Trail in Zion? What did you think of it? Do you want to do it?

2 thoughts on “Petroglyph Canyon Zion: Hike To The Secret Petroglyphs Of Zion

    1. Aww, thank you! It always cheers me up to see a comment from you and I’m glad I get virtually take you some of these places!

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