Fremont Indian State Park is just off of I-70, about 17 miles from where east of where the Interstate starts, at I-15. During construction of I-70, in the 1980s, archeological evidence of ancient habitation was uncovered. Following excavation, the village was large either re-intered, or removed. The petroglyphs (carved in rock) and pictographs (painted on rock), however, remained in the canyons.
In the case of that first photo, in fact, the painting is so large it is visible even if you are speeding along on I-70.Some glyphs date relatively recently, to the Paiute who passed through the area in the between 1400 and the late 1800s, while some date back to the Fremont People, roughly a thousand years ago.
Many large panels are visible in the short, paved trail behind the visitor center. Some are up a bit in height, so binoculars or a telephoto lens is helpful. Indeed, one wonders if there were rocks closer to the cliffs, or if the original artists used ladders of some sort to paint so high.
Photos are also helpful because you can later crop and zoom in to see some sections of the panel in better detail. For example, the third and fourth photos of this post are crops of the second shot.
The interpretive signs nearby stated that the higher glyphs were written after the lower ones. But it is interesting to know that, by the time the more recent paintings and carvings were made, the oldest were well over 500 years old!
There are several shortish walks you can take, some more well-defined than others. There are also dirt roads, either travelable by passenger cars, or, in some cases, ATVs. That brings you to more rock art, so if you have the time, you can do some exploring and look for lesser-known displays.
There are also a few cave or alcove paintings, where a metal fence keeps you out, to protect the art. In one case, where the art is on the interior wall of an alcove, there's a parabolic mirror so you can see the inside wall of that alcove. You could also reach in with your camera and snap some shots, for a clearer photo of the art. Looks like I didn't include any pictures of that, though.
Finally, there are several areas were you can park along the road and scanned the high cliffs above. Again, a telephoto lens or binoculars are helpful. Can't always find all of the art referenced in the interpretive signs, though.
The park is pretty small, so unless you plan to take longer walks along ATV trails, you can see all of the major exhibits in a pretty easy day. In that respect, it's not necessary a destination so much as a place to make as a day trip from other areas nearby, or as an extended stop on a longer trip through the area. In my case, it was a long day trip from Cedar City. It's the same trip I looked at wildflowers and did some night sky photography in Cedar Breaks National Monument.
I had started thinking about a visit here as sort of a tie-in to my Mesa Verde trip, which occupied the last five posts of this blog. I also gave it serious thought as a possible destination to view the Annular Solar Exclipse of October 14, 2023. My initial hope was to combine that with a trip to Capital Reef, which I had only visited, briefly, once before. Of course, like here, Capitol Reef has a lot of roadside rock art.
But then my wife had limited vacation time available, so I thought maybe here, instead.
In fact, they are planning a "view" event here for the annular eclipse. But, by July, I had already made a commitment to the Night Sky Festival, and Joshua Tree National Park. Still, thought my wife might like to join in on a rock art hunt.