The same day that my husband and I went to the Four Corners Indian Art Market in Blanding back in May, we also took a drive down to Bluff and went to the Wolfman Petroglyph Panel just a few miles west of town.
The Wolfman Panel is located just one mile up the Butler Wash Rd (Co Rd 262) and is the first of many sites along the road. Of all the sites, the Wolfman Panel has the shortest hike and is by far the easiest to access. If you have time for nothing else, at least stop at the Wolfman Panel- it’s only about a 1/2 mile hike round-trip and it’s WELL worth it!
Originally, I thought the Wolfman Panel was named for the first figure you come to when hiking down to the site- a human figure with large hands and feet that looks like it has long nails or claws.
But some of the reading I’ve done online suggests that it’s named for what appears to be a couple of wolf paw prints farther down the panel. In the picture below, if you look just above my husband’s right shoulder and below the three geometric figures on the right hand side of the panel, you can just barely make out what looks like a paw print. The other paw print is located about 5 feet to the left, in the lower left hand side of the panel. (*You can see a close-up of this one in the first picture in this post)
I’m really not sure which figure this panel is named after, but I prefer to think it’s for the human figure with the claws- it makes the the idea of why a figure like that would have been carved there much more interesting!
There are several other unique figures in this panel that I hadn’t seen before. I’m not nearly as knowledgeable about rock art as many people around here are, so I won’t even pretend to know what period these figures are from! I had to ‘google’ the panel, and from everything I read, they appear to be Basketmaker Anasazi.
The styles I often hear about in this area are Archaic, Anasazi, and Fremont, but I don’t know how to identify them myself. However, I don’t think you need to be able to recognize the time period to appreciate the fact that something that was built/made/carved/etched thousands of years ago and is still here for us to see, it’s pretty amazing!
**Archaeological Site Etiquette**
As always, I want to remind readers to please be respectful when visiting our archaeological sites. Please refrain from touching pictographs and petroglyphs. The natural oils on our hands can damage these fragile images. Please don’t add your own carvings or ‘artwork’ to the panels. Please do your part to help preserve archaeological sites by leaving them the way you find them, so that they can be enjoyed by future visitors for generations to come.
Here’s a really informative video that goes over some basic archaeological site etiquette… (If you’d like to view the rest of the videos in the ‘Visit With Respect’ series, please click HERE.)
From Bluff: Travel west on hwy 191 (this road becomes hwy 163 about 4 miles west of Bluff) for about 5 miles and turn right (north) onto Co Rd 262 (Butler Wash Rd) After passing through a gate near the highway, drive 1 mile and then turn left (west) onto a single track road. You can park here or continue on .2 miles to a parking area at the rim of the canyon.
From the parking area head in SW direction across the slickrock to the rim of the canyon. From there, follow the carins toward the rock ledge and look for a boulder near the edge of the canyon rim- you will enter the canyon by passing between the boulder and the wall of the canyon. The hike is about 1/2 mile round-trip.
Distance From the Wolfman Petroglyph Panel to Lodging in San Juan County, Utah:
- Bluff: 5 miles/8 km
- Mexican Hat: 21 miles/ 34 km
- Blanding: 31 miles/50 km
- Monument Valley:46 miles/74 km
- Monticello: 53 miles/85 km
- La Sal: 88 miles/142 km