Nine Mile Canyon, Utah

Written by on March 21, 2016 in UT History & Heritage - 1 Comment

Nine Mile Canyon
Nine Mile Canyon in Southeastern Utah is actually a canyon 40 miles long stretching through the counties of Carbon and Duchesne. It has been nicknamed “the world’s longest art gallery.” The canyon It has been estimated that there are at least 1,000 rock art sites in the canyon, containing a total of more than 10,000 individual images. The rock art, shelters, and granaries left behind by the Fremont make Nine Mile Canyon a fantastic outdoor destination in the Southwest.

Fremont is a catch-all term that describes the scattering of hunter-gatherer people who lived in the area. They lived, or at least traveled through the canyon in search of game, as early as 8,000 years ago. Traces of more permanent habitation begin around 300 A.D., and the Fremont settled more permanently in the canyon in villages consisting of pithouses around 750 A.D. They remained in the canyon until around 1250 A.D., and then disappeared. No one is sure why although drought and hostile tribes moving into the territory are possibilities. While many of their settlements have been lost to time, the magnificent artwork of these native people remains.

The ingenuity of the Fremont people was amazing. Some of the panels of artwork were carved hundreds of feet up sheer cliff faces. The petroglyphs (carvings on rock faces) and pictographs (paintings on rock faces) depict animals, hunting scenes and godlike figures — there is even an image of what many claim is a space man. Cliff granaries on high canyon ledges may be spotted by careful observers, and the buff colored cliffs of the canyon are highlighted by balanced rocks and window arches.

Many of the rock art panels are accessible from the dirt and gravel road that runs through the canyon — either right next to the road or in the side canyons. The road is narrow, steep and has blind curves so drive carefully. Please note that the road may be impassible in inclement weather (either rain or snow). There are no amenities of any kind in the canyon so be sure to take a picnic, plenty of water, sunscreen, bug repellant and to have a full tank of gas.

Public lands in Nine Mile Canyon are closed to camping. Nine Mile Ranch is the only campground in the canyon. It is a working cattle ranch and you stay in the campground, or in a rustic one-room cabin like the pioneers. The ranch also offers “Bunk n’ Breakfast” rooms for families or singles, or you could stay in an Indian teepee. Starvation Reservoir is 25 miles from the north end of the canyon which also offers camping, water sports and a place to cool off during the summer.

Nine Mile Ranch
Write to Ben & Myrna
P.O. BOX 212
Wellington, Utah 84542
Phone: 435-637-2572

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