Nine Mile Canyon

Serve Daily - - NEWS - By Ed Helmick for Serve Daily

It is about 74 miles from Span­ish Fork down US High­way 6 and over Sol­dier Sum­mit to Price and on to the small town of Welling­ton to start your ex­plo­ration of Nine Mile Canyon. Nine Mile Canyon has been called “the world’s longest art gallery” be­cause the canyon is al­most 40 miles long. There are an es­ti­mated 1,000 rock art sites in the canyon with an es­ti­mated 10,000 in­di­vid­ual images. Be­tween 950 and 1250 AD, the canyon was oc­cu­pied by the Fre­mont In­dian Cul­ture. In the 16th cen­tury, the an­ces­tral Utes started oc­cu­py­ing the canyon. In the 19th cen­tury, pi­o­neer trap­pers and ranch­ers started mov­ing into the canyon. A fam­ily drive through Nine Mile Canyon is a unique ex­plo­ration of his­tory.

At the east side of the park­ing lot at Miller’s Welling­ton Chevron is a kiosk that pro­vides in­for­ma­tion about visit­ing Nine Mile Canyon. This is also a good place to top off your ve­hi­cle fuel tank, pick up a few snacks, lunch, and most im­por­tantly drink­ing wa­ter. Re­set your odome­ter to zero, as this will help you find some ref­er­ence points as you drive through the canyon.

The road has been paved to pre­vent dust from hav­ing an ad­verse ef­fect on the an­cient pic­tographs. The first 12.5 miles cross high desert plateau coun­try, and this time of year wild­flow­ers will add some color to the trip. At about 20.5 miles you cross Minnie Maude Creek and shortly after that, you will find a BLM sign stat­ing that you are en­ter­ing Nine Mile Canyon and giv­ing you some his­tory of the canyon. In another of cou­ple miles, you will come across the ev­i­dence of an old home­stead. This area is pri­vate prop­erty, and you are asked to re­spect it. Down the road a lit­tle fur­ther you will find the Nine Mile Ranch which has camp­sites and a store.

The first no­table pic­tographs to look for are at about 25.8 miles where you will find a pull-out on the right side of the road, and the rock wall on the op­po­site side of the road has nu­mer­ous rock art along the lower wall. At about 26.8 miles is the Cot­ton­wood Pic­nic Area with re­strooms. As you con­tinue to drive the canyon, pull-out ar­eas in­di­cate nearby rock art fea­tures. Most no­table is a bal­anced rock on the cliff above the road with a num­ber of in­ter­est­ing draw­ings.

There are so many rock wall draw­ings in this canyon that they can’t all be listed here. You just have to drive slow, get out of your car and walk around ex­plor­ing the canyon walls. A park­ing area or pull-out is an in­di­ca­tion of rock art nearby. You will find a fork in the road at about 38 miles, and you will want to take the right-hand fork into Cot­ton­wood Canyon. In ap­prox­i­mately 8 miles, or 46 miles from where you ze­roed your odome­ter at Welling­ton, you will be at the park­ing area for the Big Buf­falo Panel. This in­ter­est­ing art­work is lo­cated across the canyon on the east wall. Just 0.2 miles down the road on the right is the park­ing area and kiosk for the fa­mous “Great Hunt Panel” which is one of the finest ex­am­ples of an­cient rock art that you can find any place. This is a spec­tac­u­lar re­ward for your day's drive into Nine Mile Canyon.

Next Month In Your Back Yard will ex­plore Eureka and the Tin­tic Min­ing District.

The Great Hunt Panel in Nine Mile Canyon. Photo: Ed Helmick

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