Travel Curious

For independent travelers who want to dig deeper

Sand Island Rock Art Panels

There are two large concentrations of rock art to see. The West rock art site is very large and easy to see, as you can park right in front of it and get out and walk in either direction to view it.


The East Rock Art Site takes a short walk to reach and the site stretches out over an even greater distance and features a controversial petroglyph that looks like a wooly mammoth to some people. 


Archeologists believe due to the sheer amount of petroglyphs located here and built up over at least 1000-2000 years or more, this location must have held some significance for ancient people.


The earliest artwork is Basketmaker and continues through Pueblo III more recent Ute and Navajo. You can see more modern themes in some of the images, depicting wagon wheels or riders on horses with cowboy hats.


Look for literal figures, mythical figures, horses, elk, spears, shields, twins, Kokopelli, horned animals, people with headdresses, flutes,  and much more.



  • Dogs okay
  • Binoculars really help to see the artwork up close

Getting there

4 miles west from Bluff on Highway 191, turn left to the Sand Island boat launch area. 


  • West rock art site – large parking area directly in front of it ( 37.262736, -109.609069 )
  • East rock art site – drive toward the river and then east, passing the ranger station, to the end of the short road, and park.  ( 37.261617, -109.618854 )


  • West Rock Art Site – you can park right in front of it
  • East Rock Art Site – 1.3 miles total out and back 

Map for the Sand Island petroglpyh sites


West Rock Art Site

The panels are behind chain fencing, and there is a rough trail leading along the front of the fence, the more you look the more you will see, the site is quite large and there are hundreds of individual images everywhere. 

Sand Island Rock Art Utah

Petroglyphs cover the rock face

A great mixture of subject, from spirals to men on horseback

A close up of the Sand Island rock art


East Rock Art Site

The East site (sometimes referred to as the Upper site) stretches out over a greater distance than the West site and contains rock art from different time periods and a petroglyph that looks like a wooly mammoth. However, if they were mammoths that would predate the site by 10,000 years, and while a popular mythology, archeologists don’t believe they represent mammoths.
What you see today was mostly covered with overgrowth of tamarisk for most of modern times. In 2012 a BLM fire prevention program cleared much of the overgrowth and exposed much of the rock art you can see today. 
Researchers have counted 65 individual petroglyph panels at this site.
From the parking area follow the road onto Loop A for several hundred feet. The trail is to the right of the campsite at the end of the road. From there follow the trail east along the cliffs and after another 100 feet or so you will come to the trail kiosk.
There is information on the kiosk mostly about the research, but some about the actual artwork. The pictures explain the volunteer work that went into restoring the site and removing the overgrown tamarisk to reveal the artwork, photographing and sketching to record the individual panels.
There is an initial small panel to your left right when you start the trail to wet your appetite for what is to come.
The first panel along the Sand Island east site
There is another panel shortly after the first one it’s very hard to see it’s in the dark desert varnish. The easiest way to locate it is to look for some concentration of small holes in a pattern, once found look around from side to side and see if you can see and identify anything.
Some of the petroglyphs are faint and hard to make out
The main panels are further down the trail they’re obvious because they’re behind a big wooden fence on your left.
The woolly mammoth image is located about 3/4 of the way down the fence.
The best and most interesting concentration is to the far right end of the fence. Look for a rock pile that you can climb up and get a great view. Keep looking because there are hundreds of images here but they’re not all obvious at first.
Elk and bear paw representations in the Sand Island rock art panels
Human stylistic figures
To identify this area with a big concentration look for the round holes that have been carved into the rock face where the Indians had wooden poles for a structure at one time.
More rock art new Bluff Utah
Human figures, elk, bighorn sheep and claw hands
Geometric designs   Horse and rider figures near bluff utah     

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