Saturday, February 25, 2012


Vermillion Canyon, Moffat County, CO.
Photo Peter Faris, Sept. 1987.

Back in the late 1980s the Denver Chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society (DC/CAS) took a number of field trips into Brown’s Park in northwestern Colorado. These trips were primarily to visit Fremont rock art sites in Brown’s Park, an area that is really a long way from anywhere. One of the favorite sites involved considerable 4-wheel driving and then a long hike. This was the Vermillion Creek canyon, a narrow slot canyon through the Vermillion Bluffs . We had to come in from the north side because access from the south end was blocked by a drop-off and a pool of water. We usually tried to time the visit so we could sit and have lunch below this panel with the large figure gazing down at us. One strange coincidence was that on two of our trips in while we were sitting there a troop of boy scouts came along down the canyon. The odds against two groups of such totally different origin as DC/CAS and a boy scout troop being in that remote place at the same time seemed very high, and the odds against it being the same two groups seemed stellar. Yet it did happen, and I had been told that it not only happened the two times I witnessed it, but on at least one other occasion as well.

 On the trip in 1987 that the illustration is from we were sitting below the panel eating our lunches and not much talking was taking place. We were in that state of revery that all of us real rock art groupies fall into when confronted by an impressive panel. Indeed, some of our members believed that we were in a spiritual place and having a spiritual experience. Well lo and behold, the troop of boy scouts came swinging on by hiking to some destination farther down the canyon, and as they passed one scout pointed up to the petroglyph panel and I distinctly heard him say to his companion “see, there is the Thunderstud that I told you about.” – End of spiritual moment, it instantly snapped us back into perspective. Think about it, who are we to assume that there was anything spiritual about that place and that imagery. We don’t have a clue to the motives for its creation. In the study of rock art we may sometimes jump to conclusions too quickly. Let’s try to hold off on the guesswork and base our opinions on actual fact. Remember, Thunderstud is watching you. 

1 comment:

  1. Is this panel just due south of Irish Canyon's south entrance or a ways into Vermillion Basin? I'm finding next to no information about it anywhere I look.