Fre­mont Vil­lage Trail

Nine Mile Canyon, Utah

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THE DE­VEL­OP­MENT OF OIL re­serves in the plateau sur­round­ing Nine Mile Canyon, started in 2000, nearly spelled disas­ter for 60-plus pre­his­toric rock art sites, which were get­ting coated in the dust kicked up by heavy truck traf­fic. But en­ergy com­pa­nies paved the canyon road, and now, it’s heavy visi­ta­tion that threat­ens these gems: As more peo­ple en­joy eas­ier ac­cess to the 10,000 pet­ro­glyphs and pic­tographs, van­dal­ism is on the rise. In May 2014, two hik­ers de­faced the fa­mous “Preg­nant Buf­falo” site, etch­ing their ini­tials into the panel.

But hik­ers can also be a force for good. Other vis­i­tors at the Preg­nant Buf­falo site wit­nessed the van­dal­ism and noted the cou­ple’s li­cense plate num­ber, which led to the per­pe­tra­tors’ even­tual pros­e­cu­tion. The episode proved that in­creased visi­ta­tion at Nine Mile Canyon and other ar­chae­ol­ogy hot spots (like Bears Ears Na­tional Mon­u­ment, page 36) can ac­tu­ally pro­tect an­cient ar­ti­facts. Hope­fully, peo­ple will show more re­spect if they know hik­ers are watch­ing.

Visit Nine Mile Canyon, which con­tains more Fre­mont pet­ro­glyphs and pic­tographs than any other lo­ca­tion in the Lower 48, and hike the Fre­mont Vil­lage Trail. Start­ing near the split of Nine Mile Canyon and Cot­ton­wood Canyon Roads, the .5-mile out-and-back as­cends a sage­brush-dot­ted hill­side to a bench 200 feet above Nine Mile Canyon’s floor. Pass a ring of stones mark­ing an un­ex­ca­vated pit­house, ad­mire the red hand­prints that the Fre­mont peo­ple stamped on a large boul­der some 1,000 years ago, and peer into caves where they made ba­sic dwellings.

TRAILHEAD Fre­mont Vil­lage (39.7832, -110.1343) SEA­SON Year-round PER­MIT None CON­TACT castle­coun­

See the Preg­nant Buf­falo pet­ro­glyph in Nine Mile Canyon.

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