Rock art sites are difficult to date. Clues are found in the subject matter on the panel, a rock wall or boulder. As days warm up in the desert, visiting rock art is a region specific point of interest requiring little demand physically to access.
Depictions of mastodon hints of a Pleistocene era, scenes involving horses necessarily occurred after 1540 A.D., at a time when Spaniards introduced horses to the New World and so on.
Two types of rock art can be found: petroglyphs and pictographs. Petroglyphs are scratched – pecked into rock surfaces. Pictographs are painted drawings. Please bring a camera or sketchbook to record these protected public treasures. Rubbings are forbidden. Touching art is forbidden, skin oil is transferred then damages the panel.
A simple pamphlet is available from the MoabInformationCenter providing detailed directions to sites. Or find the electronic brochure on www. Discovermoab.com. The Moab Information Center also has books that introduce readers to a plausible lifestyle of the cultures which left the motifs.
Local Moab tour companies have trips which may include stops at a rock art site, however, when it comes to definitive interpretation, even the archaeologists and historians only speculate.
The Antiquities Act of 1906 was the first law to recognize the importance of Archeological Sites. It prevented the removal of artifacts. It allowed the President to set aside federal lands as “National Monuments’. The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 details prohibited activities and increased the financial and incarceration penalties. Selling, buying, transporting artifacts is unlawful. Defacing, damaging, removing items from federal sites is unlawful.
Around Moab, hundreds of thousands of acres fall into the federal land category. By 1998 the ARPA was amended to establish programs to increase public awareness by land managers to protect resources. In 2015, you are needed to help spread the word of protection of the precious places.