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In the Canyon of Nine Mile

 

Leave Price going east on Highway 50-6 through Wellington,  It is a total of  7.5 miles to the Nine-Mile Canyon turn-off (Soldier Creek Road).  Turn left, or north.

1.  21.1 miles to the bridge over Minnie Maude Creek.  Starting at the highway turn off, drive on paved road through sagebrush and juniper country.  In the spring you may see deer down from the hills feeding in the alfalfa fields.  At 12.2 miles, the road changes to gravel as you pass through the Soldier Creek Mine parking lot.  The road climbs slightly to the summit of the hills.  The creek running to the west is Minnie Maude Creek.

About half a mile beyond the bridge is a BLM sign that explains a little about the canyon.

2.  1.5 miles from the bridge to the old homestead.  The old homestead will be on the left side of the road.  Take a peek inside the old home and imagine living there back in the days when it was a functioning ranch.

3.  3.3 miles from the homestead to the first major panels of petroglyphs.  The first panel is a good opportunity to view some petroglyphs up close.  The rock art is on a rocky point to the left of the road.  Stop the car and get out.  Look carefully along the smooth base of the rock point, on it shady side.  As your eyes become accustomed to looking for carvings, you will find all kinds of figures and designs; some are distinct and others quite faint.  This location is an excellent place to have children see how many different designs they can find.  

Now stand back from the rock and look over your head.  You will see an excellent panel of petroglyphs just above a narrow ledge.  It is not hard to imagine a young native American crouched on that ledge carving those figures.  If  you are careful, you  can climb up to the ledge for a closer look.

4.  3.2 miles from this spot, you can see the first structure left by the Fremont culture.  On your left is a large, sagebrush-covered hill.  Locate a flat-topped rock on top of the hill.   Several hundred yards below that rock and slightly to the left, there is a rock cliff with several long cracks in it.  With your binoculars, examine the base of the largest crack.   You will see the remains of a round structure.  On the low ridge to your right are pit houses.

As you drive from here to the next stop, watch carefully---particularly in the black patina on the rock faces.  You can spot petroglyphs of sheep and deer.

5.  1.0 miles  Next, you will come upon the remains of the ghost town of Harper.  It was once a stagecoach stop and a sheep ranch.

6.  1.4 miles  The road curves around a balanced rock near the left edge of the road.  If you use your imagination, the rock can look like the cartoon character Porky Pig.  Stop just around the corner from the balanced rock; to the left of the road just above the car is an excellent panel with a variety of figures.  Examine the rocks on both sides of the main panel for more art.  Also, you can climb up to the ledge, but be extremely careful of loose rock.

7.  1.4 miles  Look carefully at the smooth sections of rock covered with black patina, to the left of the road about halfway up the hill.  There are carvings all along this section.  In particular, note the excellent panel with some unusual figures - human shapes with headdresses and some with toes and fingers, lines of deer, and some designes with squares created from dots.  Binoculars will give you a better view of the petroglyphs, or if you are ambitious, you can climb up to the panels.

8.  1.4 miles  Stop right next to a line of tall cottonwood trees.  To your left, look halfway up the hillside at the smooth black rock faces.  A design of a large snake stands out rather distinctly.  With your binoculars, examine the rock faces on both sides of the snake.  To the right is a rock covered with many figures quite different from those you have seen so far.   There are trees, birds, and human figures with distinct hands and feet.

Through the next several miles, you should be watching carefully, because there are hundreds of individual petroglyphs on the smooth rock faces of the hillside.  Proceed slowly and see if you can spot some unusual petroglyphs on your own.

9.  3.5 miles  The remains of an ancient granary are clearly visibly.  You have stopped your car, get out and look back at a 45-degree angle upward.  The front of the granary has been washed away, but the floor, ceiling, and walls can be seen.

 In the Nine Mile Canyon Guide

10.  1.0 miles  At this location, you can see the first intact granary.   As you cross the cattle guard, look to your left.  Locate the large, lone cedar tree just at the base of the rock cliff.  There is a lot of sagebrush in this area, but the tree is isolated against the cliff base.  With your eye, follow the ledge the tree is on to the right---about halfway across the face of the clifff.  You will see a light-colored area of rock above the ledge.  The granary is nestled there; it has light-colored mortar and seems to be perched on the rock face.

11.  1.5 miles  Look directly ahead of you up the road to the high cliff face.  You will see a long slit in the rock that looks rather greenish.  Look slightly below this and to the right.  Locate the hole in some light-colored rock.  The granary can be seen, with binoculars, in the crevice.

12.  2.5 miles  Rassmussuen's Cave is the location of some excellent pictographs.

13.  1.0 miles  The road forks here.  The right fork will go up Cottonwood Canyon; the left fork continues down Nine Mile.  For now, take the right fork. 

14.  0.9 miles  On the ridge you have just driven around is the remains of a Fremont Village.  You can easily walk up the hillside to the west and see the rocks that outline where several pit houses once stood.  Other structures were built around the large boulders.  To the north across the canyon is a long greenish ledge; with binoculars, you can see it is lined with structures.

15.  0.3 miles  On the rock outcropping to your right, about 10 feet above the road, is a famous hunting scene that is the subject of one of the murals in the Price Prehistoric Museum.  Return to the forks in the main road.  Turn right.

16.  0.5 miles  On the main road is an alcove of white rock, about a third of the way up the hill.  To your left, there are both petroglyphs and pictographs.  The pictographs are colors applied to the rock instead of carving.

17.  1.3 miles  (Information removed because it is private property.)

18.  0.5 miles  This petroglyph panel is of men, women, a turkey, a scorpion, a bird and abstract sketches.

19.  2.3 miles  To your left is a square-topped butte on top of the hill.  Use your binoculars to examine the top of the butte.  You can see rock work left by the ancient inhabitants of the canyon.

20.  0.1 miles  Watch carefully for a little dirt road turning off to the left.  Take this turn and go around the outcropping of rock (near the right-hand side of this little road).  The cliff face becomes a smooth half circle.  Stop the car and look carefully about a third of the way up the cliff face.  You will see a well-preserved granary perched on a small ledge.  Try to see if you can figure out a way the Fremont gained access to this granary.

21.  0.4 miles  Starting from the main road again, you will go nearly half a mile.  Just before you round a curve, watch on your left; you will find a petroglyph of a bird in flight.

22.   0.1 miles  You will reach the end of the county road.  From here it is private property and you must have permission to go on.