Canyon Pintado National Historic District
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Bureau of Land Management: Colorado > BLM Colorado - Field Offices > BLM Colorado | White River Field Office > BLM Colorado | White River | Cultural Resources >  

The Canyon Pintado National Historic District includes hundreds of archaeological sites, most deriving from the Fremont Culture (c. AD 0–1300) and Ute (c. AD 1300–1881) occupations of the Douglas Creek canyon. The name “Canyon Pintado,” meaning “Painted Canyon,” comes from the journal of Frey Francisco Silvestre Velez de Escalante. As a chronicler of the 1776 Escalante-Dominguez Expedition he wrote about some of the Native American pictographs included in the self-guided tour.


Seven premiere rock art locations and archaeological sites have been made available to the public, and are posted with interpretative panels. These sites are highlighted on the map below. A similar map may be found in the Canyon Pintado interpretative brochure, available at the White River Field Office and elsewhere.


The long-awaited new interpretive panels are now in place at sites featured on the map below.  Check back with us for future updates regarding guided tours of Canyon Pintado in the spring or summer of 2010, new interpretive signs for Dragon Trail rock art sites, and more detailed synopses of the prehistory and history of Northwest Colorado and Canyon Pintado 


Please help us protect these irreplaceable, culturally and scientifically valuable resources. Adding your own images or names to the rock art panels may weaken the rock itself, and result in the loss of the entire panel. Touching pictographs (painted figures) may leave behind oils that can cause the pigments to dissolve. Making rubbings of petroglyphs (carved or pecked figures) will erode the rock surface. Only take photographs or make sketches of rock art panels—never touch them. Intentionally damaging rock art is considered vandalism, and is punishable by law.


If you see others causing damage to rock art panels or other archaeological sites, please notify the White River Field Office (970-878-3800). 

Lookout Point (milepost 67.6): A Fremont masonry room accompanied by drilled holes in
the bedrock. The holes are a mystery, with some suggesting they were used to predict important annual astronomical events.
East Fourmile (milepost 61.3):  Ute and Fremont petroglyphs and pictographs adorn the
walls of East Fourmile Draw. An important excavated site (Hanging Hearth), a historic line shack, and a possible solstice marker (Sun Dagger) are also found here.

-An update on the current research at the Sun Dagger Site can be found here
State Bridge (milepost 59.7): A ridge south of the dirt road contains Classic style
Fremont petroglyphs.
Cow Canyon (milepost 57.8): Go 0.2 miles up the road going east. Turn right
(south) 0.8 miles, crossing two cattle guards, before turning left (east) up a draw. Drive 0.1 miles up the draw. Rock art panels are found about 90 yards to the left, facing the road.
White Birds (milepost 56.5): Walk up a short trail and look up from the viewing platform
to see colorful anthropomorphs (human-shaped figures) and other figures. These are probably related to the Barrier Canyon style of Fremont rock art.
Waving Hands (milepost 53.5): From the parking area, a marked path to the right (near
the highway) leads to “the Guardian,” recognizable from the front cover of the brochure. A path to the left brings the viewer to a rock shelter with Fremont and Ute figures. Many Ute rock art panels in this region can be easily distinguished by their representations of horses, an animal introduced by the Spanish in the 1600s. 

Last updated: 03-20-2014