Forget about those art galleries stuck in the urban exhibition hall now! About 125 miles away from Salt Lake City, right in the middle of the Utah’s borderless desert, the Nine Mile Canyon is definitely the wildest art collection you have ever met.
This incredible 40-mile-long canyon in reddish rocks stretches through Carbon and Duchesne counties, possessing more than one thousand rock art sites, including at least 10,000 individual images.Given the name “world’s longest art gallery”, this prehistoric art prohibited here traces its history back thousand years ago, gives us a glimpse of the culture lost in time.
Ancestors who originated this striking artifacts, known as the Fremont was described as a hunter-gatherer group and they settled in the canyon approximately 8,000 years ago.
These Fremont petroglyphs and pictographs perfectly documented animals, large hunting events, other customs, and even godlike figures in that era, displaying the amazing ingenuity of the Fremont people.
And by the 1500s, Ute people replaced the previous Fremont tribe in the canyon, and they founded the name “Utah” which attaches the meaning of “Ute” with “people of the mountains”. They curved their own art alongside the Fremont ones. We can even find writings indicating the date from the 1800s.
Artistical works seems quite befitting for local geographic conditions, since many of the paintings were created simply by chipping away the dark outer layer of rocks, distinguishing the lighter layer below.
There’s no doubtless explanation for the purpose of these paintings. They could have been commemorative, religious, or purely decorative of course.
Regardless of the primary aim of the art, it has become a fantastic outdoor attraction in the Southwest Utah. Nine Mile Canyon also features houses, shelters, and storage buildings of that ancient style left behind by the tribes. Whoever visits there would surely have a better understanding about the life of Ute and Fremont people.
But there’s also a potential problem presented by tourism and human intervention. The dust from the road rised by both industrial and tourist vehicles can easily damage the old fragile art on the cliffs.
Archaeologist Jerry Spangler, the executive director of the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance, keeps on his work of identifying the cultural history and preserving them from vandalism and industrial development. “What we have is a perfect storm of one of America’s richest archaeological districts sitting right next to one of America’s greatest natural gas reserves,” said Jerry Spangler, “and a conflict happens when you have industrial development in a cultural landscape.”
As a result, Carbon County paved the canyon’s dirt road in order to reduce the dust, while they also have to pay a lot attention on educating travellers with strict rules.
If you enjoy mysterious petroglyphs or pictographs, do go for a visit at the Nine Mile Canyon and let the combination of nature and art amaze you!