Summary: The signposted Fremont Culture petroglyphs in Capitol Reef National Park consist of multiple rock art panels at the base of a tall cliff, accessed via a boardwalk.

The Fremont Culture petroglyphs (also referred to as the Fruita Petroglyph Cliff) in Capitol Reef National Park at the base of very high cliff. The rock art was created by the Fremont Culture that existed in Utah from 600/700-1300 CE/AD; the Fremont people lived throughout Utah and adjacent areas of Idaho, Colorado, and Nevada and were named after the Fremont River and its valley, in which many of the first Fremont sites were discovered. The Fremont people were contemporaries of the Anasazi, but lived a different lifestyle.

The main panel (at the start of the western boardwalk) has multiple anthropomorphic figures that have trapezoidal shaped bodies with arms, legs and fingers, which are adorned with headdresses, ear bobs, necklaces and clothing items. (The trapezoidal bodies are considered typical of the Classic Vernal style of Fremont petroglyph.)

The panel also includes bighorn sheep, deer, a rabbit and other animals.

Along the eastern boardwalk are some fainter petroglyphs. One panel has an anthropomorph and a Bighorn Sheep, and next to it is another anthropomorphic figure with a more traditional body shape, hair bobs and an arced headdress.

Another panel has more animals, including more bighorn sheep and what may be a bear.

One panel has what has been described as a Kokopelli (a fertility deity, usually depicted as a humpbacked flute player). There’s also more anthropomorphs in headdresses, the large horns on one of these these anthropomorphs are thought to represent Shamanistic or supernatural powers (they have been linked to earlier Barrier Canyon style petroglyphs).

One last panel contains some lines and symbols.

Getting to the Fremont Culture Petroglyphs

The signposted Fremont Culture Petroglyphs are along are along Utah State Route 24 in the Fruita District, just to the east of the Capitol Reef Visitor Centre. Two wheelchair-accesible boardwalks provide access to panels of rock art along the cliff.

More information

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