Pups Go West 2016 – The Hunt for Rock Art

The alarm sounded, waking me from a very deep sleep, Utah was waiting and it was time to  continue westward. Being a dinosaur nerd, I’ve always wanted to get a photo of the Fruita, CO grain elevator featuring a huge mural of a T-Rex.  Immediately after snapping a shot, I thought of the terrible joke I told to coworkers a couple days before vacation.

Q:  What do you call a guy who sticks his right hand in T-Rex’s mouth?

A:  Lefty


Pushing toward the border, the La Sal Mountains came into view to the southwest; their appearance always feels like coming home.

Fruita grain elevator


Made it!

My ultimate destination for the day was Joe’s Valley Reservoir west of Orangeville.  We camped there last year, and along with being nearly alone in the campground, we caught a number of decent Splake from shore.  Before making camp, however, I wanted to explore around the Moore area, looking for rock art.

The San Rafael Reef, a fantastic monocline that I-70 cuts through, is one of my favorite features in Utah.  The dogs and I made a quick stop at the rest stop just east of the Reef to take a couple of photos, stretch our legs and breathe in the dry Utah air.

Camera is over here dogs!

Westbound I-70 cutting through the San Rafael Reef

Moore Cutoff road was waiting, so I eased the Jeep back onto I-70 and continued westward.    I-70 through the Reef always impresses me, it’s hard to fathom the massive amounts of work that went into that short stretch of road.

I turned onto the Moore Cutoff road with Short Canyon as my first intended stop.  After a couple of misturns (and some pretty bumpy two-tracks), I found my way to the mouth of the canyon.  I loaded my pack with camera gear and water, got the dogs ready and started the hike into the canyon.  We made our way down the trail until we reached the location of the geocache we were searching for.

Bumpy drive to Short Canyon

Michigan shaped pothole and Molen Reef

Strike a pose

After the GPS jumping around, trying to find the cache’s coordinates, I located the geocache in a crack in some boulders.  I knew there were pictographs and petroglyphs in the canyon so we continued hiking a bit to try and find them.  We didn’t go far before high up on the canyon wall I spotted a pictograph.  While I knew there was additional rock art further into the canyon, we were running low on time and I had another panel I’d been looking for the past couple of years.  The rest of the canyon’s rock art would have to wait for another trip.

We turned around and headed out of the canyon, the dogs running and wrestling, burning off some of the energy they stored up on the trip out.  We reached the Jeep and started the short drive back to the Moore Cutoff road.

Found the geocache!image

Pictographs high on a canyon wallimage

Heading back to the Jeepimage

Pent up energy from the long drive from Michigan

 Back on Moore Cutoff road I headed west to the Molen Reef petroglyphs to walk around a bit.  It seems as though every rock holds an ancient image, one can find new figures on every visit.

Molen Reef Petroglyphsimage



Moving on, again westward, I was looking for a panel that I’d wanted to find for several years.  I had written down clues I found in blog posts and forum trip reports, pored over maps looking for likely places and spent far too much time on Google Earth.  I was pretty confident that I had it this time.  The dogs and I started off up the steep slope to where I thought it was, this asthmatic flatlander and her flatlander dogs sucking wind as we went.  After a bit of searching, I decided I was thwarted again, which was fine – the view was pretty fantastic and it gave me another reason to visit the area and explore more next time.

Moore Cutoff Roadimage

Mira is still a little mountain goat, even at 10 yrs old!image

Mira and I (and my four chins – not the most flattering photo LOL)image

Spanish Bayonet (I think) – take care, very stabby!!image

We made it back to the car, Yukon barking like a doofus at the cars as they went by below, and started toward our destination for the evening, Joe’s Valley Reservoir and what would turn out to be a great night of fishing!

Rarely seen in the wild, a sleeping Australian Shepherd 🙂image

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Colorful Colorado only showed me white today ❄️ Side note, every season is Chaco season!! I’m glad I have a few more days before I have to work because I’m not sure how I’m going to transition back to regular shoes 😫 #roadtrip #utah #colorado #sandals #snow #snowstorm #colorfulcolorado #chaconation #chacosandals #spring
Well, our time in Utah has come to an end (technically the photo is in Arizona 😜). We’re starting our journey back to Michigan this morning after an awesome trip! Yesterday I drove through the Tribal Park portion of Monument Valley after years of driving through on the highway. Cache is sporting his Ruffwear “Monument Valley” color scheme leash and collar while posing at north window overlook. . . . . . #australianshepherd #aussies #aussiesofinstagram #aussielovers #dogstagram #dogsofinstagram #dog #dogoftheday #australianshepherdworld #australianshepherdsofinstagram #aussie #dogsofinsta #aussiesdoingthings #monumentvalley #monumentvalleytribalpark #utah #arizona #adventuredog #roadtrip #mydogismy #optoutside #navajonation
I’m so fortunate to have this little dog in my life. She may be geriatric but she’s still running up and down rock faces (albeit more slowly than she did as a younger dog), sprinting around the desert after her brother and posing like a super model for photos. She’s definitely my soul dog ❤️ . . . . . #aussiesdoingthings #dogsofinsta #aussielove #bluemerle #aussie #australianshepherdsofinstagram #dogsofinstagram #bluemerleaussie #instadog #aussiesofinstagram #australianshepherdworld #australianshepherd #adventure #adventuredog #seniordog #olddogsrule #utah #mydogismy #optoutside
Mira and Cache were great at giving their Aunt Melissa some canyoneering tips this morning on our hike 😜 . . . . . #nature #dogs #optoutside #thegreatoutdogs #dogsonadventures #adventuredog #dogsofinstagram #hiking #dogsthathike #hikingwithdogs #hikingdogsofinstagram #hikingadventures #australianshepherd #aussie #australianshepherdsofinstagram #canyoneering #utah #gsenm #grandstaircaseescalantenationalmonument
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