Sand Island Petroglyphs

The Sand Island Petroglyph site is a public petroglyph site at the Sand Island Recreation Area, along the San Juan River in Utah.  They are well signed, and adjacent to a BLM campground.  I didn’t expect much from the site, figuring that the panel was insignificant, or trashed beyond recognition. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the panel was larger than I had anticipated, and in nice condition, with only minimal vandalism. The BLM has erected a short fence, which is non-intrusive for viewing the panel up close.

The BLM states that the petroglyphs at Sand Island were created between 300 to 3,000 years ago by the Anasazi and the Navajo. I found that the panel contains a large concentration of anthropomorphic figures, including several renditions of the famed flute playing, Kokopelli. Patterned body anthropomorphic figures can be found among the jumble of thousands of petroglyphs adorning the red rock cliff face.  Zoomorphic, or animal depictions are also heavily represented, predominate is the famed bighorn sheep of the southwest. There are also depictions of elk, or deer, and even a man wearing a wide-brim hat on horseback. The panel is so busy with designs that I didn’t realize half of what was there until reviewing my photographs at home.

This site is a nice stop, and a great jumping off point for visiting the many sites along Combridge.


Gallery of select images from Sand Island


About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.