The Wolfman Panel and Cliff Dwelling (Comb Ridge)

A small parking area is located where a road once crossed the valley toward Butler Wash and Comb Ridge.  Now the road is signed closed, and part of a wilderness area. Other than the closed to vehicular access sign, no other signs indicate what lies beyond. But those in the know, know that the “Wolfman Panel” is found less than a half-mile from that parking area.

The trail follows the old dirt road, before cutting across a segment of slickrock and down a ravine and into Butler Wash.  At the bottom of the ravine is where the “Wolfman Panel” is found, as well as a considerable amount of additional petroglyphs. The “Wolfman,” is a boxy human figure with arms and legs, his hands have what appear to be claws for fingers. Why the panel is named after this figure is unbeknown to me, larger, and much more elaborate petroglyphs are located to the right of the panel’s namesake.

 

The trail crossing a section of Slickrock, before descending into Butler Wash.

The trail crossing a section of Slickrock, before descending into Butler Wash.

 

Looking down into Butler Wash from the rim.

Looking down into Butler Wash from the rim.

 

Meet the “Wolfman”

Meet the “Wolfman”

 

The prized panel in my mind is a large series of Egyptian looking designs, including a large human figure with what appears to have stretched earlobes. To the left of him, two large depictions of birds, and what appear to be staffs. The precision in detail to these large petroglyph designs is what really surprised me, each meticulously carved out of the wall.

Unfortunately the panel has seen some defacement, there are roughly a dozen or so scars from bullets. Thankfully the damage is minimal, but it is unfortunate that it was done at all.  I have no reason to believe that this act of vandalism was recent, there are photographs of the panels going back several years showing the same damage. This act was likely to have been done in the early to mid 1900s, when there was far less respect, and educational resources about the importance of these cultural sites.

 

An overview of much of the “Wolfman” panel.

An overview of much of the “Wolfman” panel.

 

Out of all the designs at the “Wolfman” panel, I found these Egyptian looking petroglyphs the most interesting.

Out of all the designs at the “Wolfman” panel, I found these Egyptian looking petroglyphs the most interesting.

 

After admiring this beautiful, and unique panel of petroglyphs, a trail caught my eye. It crossed the wash, and up the other side of the embankment. At the time, I wasn’t aware of there being anything else in the immediate vicinity, but out of curiosity I decided to follow it. Reaching the top of the embankment, I was delighted and taken aback by the ruins of a cliff dwelling.

The cliff dwelling was eye-catching even in a state of ruin. The detail to construction immediately popped out at me, each and every stone utilized in the construction was squared of, and placed neatly on top of each other. Mud was used to cement the stone in place. A piece of the roof, constructed of sticks tied together and encased in mud lied on the ground nearby. It was obvious to me that great time and detail went into the construction of these homes.

 

Ruins of the cliff dwellings across Butler Wash from the “Wolfman” panel.

Ruins of the cliff dwellings across Butler Wash from the “Wolfman” panel.

 

Close-up of the entrance to a small room.

Close-up of the entrance to a small room.

 

A look inside.

A look inside.

 

One small portion of the dwelling was still fully enclosed. I took a peek inside of one of the windows, and was surprised at how small the room was. For that matter, maneuvering around among the walls without bumping into them was very difficult, but I managed,  I was  just extra cautious. Some reports state that average height of an adult Anasazi was only four and a half feet tall, based on the tight living spaces, I believe that to be true.

Adjacent to the dwelling there is a large boulder covered in metates, mortars, and a tool sharpening station. On the cliff walls, dozens of faded, almost invisible pictograph designs.

 

To the right of the dwelling, a large boulder with metates, mortars, and a sharpening station.

To the right of the dwelling, a large boulder with metates, mortars, and a sharpening station.

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.

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