Petroglyphs: The Writing on the Wall

Petroglyphs are images scratched into rocks using other rocks or instruments. In the desert, rocks often gather a dark patina that can be chipped away to reveal a lighter surface underneath. These are ideal surfaces for creating petroglyphs.

These drawings are found in many locations around the world. and those created by ancient peoples tend to hold a certain mystique.

NOTE: – Paintings on rocks are referred to as pictographs or petrographs.

Some Petroglyphs are relatively recent, perhaps as young as the early twentieth century while others are tens of thousands of years old.

During our many hikes across the United States, we have seen a number of established petroglyph sites.

One of the most interesting encounters was Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument in Utah which can be found along the main road leading into the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park.

The photo above was of the left-hand side of the main display. A number of the images are self-explanatory while others remain mysterious. These are estimated to be 2,000 years old according to the park’s website.

This lighter section was a less “populated” area even farther left of the area shown above. It is amazing how well the petroglyphs have stood the rigors of weather over time. Notice that some drawings such as the feet and the quartered circle are repeated in a number of areas shown in the photographs.

The last section, located on the right-hand side of the monument, is carved on very dark rock. A variety of animals and hunters can clearly be seen.

What I find almost equally astounding is that these images do not seem to have been defaced. There is only a short fence blocking off this ancient canvas which could easily be breeched. Kudos to the thousands of visitors who have admired this precious view into the past and have kept it safe for others to witness.

Read more abut Newspaper Rock HERE

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

We were fortunate enough to have time to visit petroglyphs at the Valley of Fire State Park. Although these were not at ground level, a scaffolding was erected to enable easy viewing of the ancient artistry.

Picture courtesy of Park Ranger John website

Valley of Fire State Park

A number of the images were similar to those at other sites.



Unfortunately there was some alteration, or more accurately, violation of these ancient treasures, shown in the picture below via the circle.


The names Herman and Janine were carved into the face of the large rock.

Painted Desert – Another Rock, Another Newspaper

The Painted Desert also has a Newspaper Rock although it is not as easy to “read” as the Canyonland’s Edition.

The artifacts can be viewed from a fenced-off, elevated area just a short walk from the large parking lot. Don’t expect to get a good picture of the actual drawings unless you have a camera with a fairly large telephoto lens.

This is what you will see from the viewpoint above the rock formation. I have placed yellow arrows where the petroglyphs are located. On a sunny day, there is shade covering much of the surface (obviously depending on the the time of the day) making them difficult to see with the naked eye.


There are free viewing machines (mechanical binoculars) that assist visitors in visualizing some of the drawings. These are not always optimal as dust and dirt on the lenses and loss of definition related to location in such a harsh environment degrades the lenses.


I am not suggesting that people be allowed to approach these ancient treasures and, as demonstrated above, perhaps it is a good thing for their own protection.

The pictures below were not captured with a standard 35mm camera and thus the ranges given are approximately estimated for a full-frame digital camera.

With a telephoto lens ( 80mm +/-), we can get closer…

At approximately 300 mm (+/-) the drawings become quite clear:


Moving in a bit closer, we can see even more detail.


At the maximum length of the crop sensor lens on my canon HS50xs Powershot, we get a closer look, but some detail is blurred.

Once again, we see similarity to petroglyphs from other sites.


Tours by the Old Pueblo Archaeology Center are available for some of the petroglyph sites at the Petrified Forest.

Read more about Petroglyphs and Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more miscellaneous stories on JBRish HERE


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©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 —

Hikeographer at the Delicate Arch

I guess you could say that I often adopt the role of hikeographer. You might wonder exactly what this is so let me explain. I enjoy photography. I wouldn’t say that it is exactly a passion, but it is a significant interest of mine. I also enjoy hiking and seeing different natural things.

My favorite subjects are scenery, animals (especially birds), flowers and unusual signs. I must admit that I am not one to usually try to time my arrival at a destination to get the best light. I understand that this is one reason I may never be a great photographer and I am willing to accept that limitation.

What I like to do is take my camera with me when hiking and capture the scene at hand to the best of my ability. I apply whatever skills I have learned to render the best picture possible while I am hiking various trails and arriving at remarkable vistas. That is why I refer to myself as a hikeographer. I am a hiker who likes photography.

With that in mind, here are some pictures I took at Arches National Park (ANP),Utah. It is a wonderful place to hike and to photograph. If you enjoy either of these hobbies or both, I highly recommend that you visit ANP.

Most Utah license plates have a drawing of the Delicate Arch on it…so called because it is slowly eroding. If you look at the pictures below, you will note that the left-side leg of the arch is very thin at one point. It won’t be there forever. Several other arches at ANP have already collapsed and are lost to the ages.

If you don’t like to hike, then you can see the Delicate Arch (DA) from a parking lot. Here is a picture taken from the parking lot without a long zoom lens. The arrow points to the DA.



Notice the people walking along the path. This may provide an indication of how far away the arch actually is.

I had a 4x zoom camera so this is the best picture I could get from the parking lot.


We had hiked all day and the DA was the last planned hike, but we had no idea how difficult this trek would be after such a long day. The incline up to the arch (the trail is from a different area and not shown) is significant so if you are incline-challenged, you may think twice about attempting it.

Once at the arch, however, the scene is spectacular.


An interesting culture seemed to have evolved at this natural wonder. It is understood, I suppose, that many people would want a picture of the Arch without a person in it and, at the same time, many people want to have their picture taken at the arch. Much to my surprise, people would walk to the arch, have their picture taken and then the next person would wait for ninety seconds (+/-) before moving into place so others can snap away without a person in the scene. This was a very interesting and much appreciated behavior.

Here I am standing near the left pillar of the DA.


I have some close ups just for the record.

Isn’t this view breathtaking?


As we began to descend on our return trip to the parking lot, the sun was setting. By the time we arrived at the car, it was dark. This will give you some idea of the slope we needed to climb and as you can see, on the way up it is certainly a HIKE!


NOTE: These pictures were taken with a Canon A590 IS point-and-shoot camera. It is nowhere near the top of anyone’s line, but as you can see, the pictures are quite nice. It is an 8 MP camera with a 4x lens, but it is quite serviceable. I have since upgraded to a Canon SX50HS; big difference. originally published this post

States Where People Live The Longest – You Might Be Surprised

    10 – Utah
    9 – New Jersey
    8 – New Hampshire
    7 – Vermont
    6 – New York
    5 – Massachusetts
    4 – Connecticut
    3 – California
    2 – Minnesota
    1 – Hawaii

To find out why people live longer in these states and how the information was derived, visit the Wall Street Journal’s article: States Where People Live Longest

For each state particular factors such as Life expectancy, Obesity rate and Poverty rate are listed and ranked for comparison.

Note – Sorry for all the “click throughs.” Use the links at the bottom of the page to get to the next section.

The Majesty of Trees

As readers of JBRish know, my wife and I enjoy hiking and one of the things we appreciate is the beauty of trees. Trees have always fascinated me. To think that there are trees alive today that have been on earth during some of the most historic periods such as the American Revolution, The Renaissance, etc. is awe inspiriing.

Beth Moon has created a wonderful book detailing a good number of these stoic trees in her book, Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time.

(Above)“Avenue of the Baobabs. Elegant in shape and form, these strange and magnificent baobabs seem to rise effortlessly to heights of 98 feet, found only on the island of Madagascar. Beth Moon

Kapok Tree,  Beth Moon, Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time

(Above)“Kapok Tree. Palm Beach, Florida, 2004. Kapoks of this size usually inhabitant the rain forest, but Moon found this one in Florida on a private estate, with roots that rise 12 feet above the ground. Beth Moon

More modest appreciation, however, comes from the beauty and majesty we have witnessed on our walks and hikes. We often wonder how a few of the trees we saw managed to survive in some of the most unusual ways and perhaps in less than ideal conditions.

Even in death, trees have a majesty about them. The picture below was taken at Monument Valley, UT.

dead tree, spooky, Monument Valley, Utah

While hiking Point Reyes National Seashore, CA last summer, we came across this Bay Tree with a cluster of branches and roots at the base. I was interested in the unusual girth.


Another tree we found of special interest this past year was at the Grand Teton National Park. Trees will often gain a foothold and because of their “ill-chosen” location, the earth around their roots is washed away. These are sometimes called “walking trees” because it does appear as though the trees have legs.

This tree, as you can see, lost its foothold and will probably not survive too much longer although it is hanging in there.

tree Grand Teton National Park Walking Tree Tree roots exposed

Read More about the book and Beth Moon at the Huffington Post: The Most Ancient and Magnificent Trees From Around the World. More of Beth Moon’s pictures can be found at the above link.