The Hunting Camp Panel

The Canyon That Calls To Me

There is a canyon in southern Utah that has intrigued me for quite some time.  It’s in prime territory for ruins and rock art.  I’ve done a lot of exploring all around it and seen a lot of neat stuff. But I have never been able to find more than just a tiny bit of information about what might be in this particular canyon – it just doesn’t get much mention by anyone.  Which, is probably because getting there and exploring it is difficult.  I have, in fact, explored it just a little bit from the bottom on two separate occasions, and found some neat stuff.  But getting in from the bottom is a multi day commitment – it takes me a whole day of walking just to get to the starting point.

For several years now I have been interested in exploring the upper reaches of the canyon.  When my friend Alan asked if I was up for giving it a go, I was in!

Finding Our Way In

We started by studying topo maps for a possible route down into the canyon.  Then, once on the scene, we spent the morning scouting how to possibly best get down without getting cliffed out.  Decided on a potential route, went for it, and it went – we got in without any drama.  No trail at all though and no footprints to be seen even when we got down into the main canyon. 100% off trail bushwhack the whole day.

A typically spectacular southern Utah canyon
Part way down a neat little natural bridge caught our eyes
Seemingly random chunks of petrified wood here and there along the way

We were looking for ruins and rock art.  So we didn’t just travel in a Point A to Point B fashion.  We were following up side canyons and exploring likely looking walls, nooks and crannies.

Alan glassing for archaeology

We didn’t find any habitation sites, but did find a couple of what I believe to have been seasonal hunting camps.  Spots with rock shelter, bits of ancient charcoal, lots of flint chips and broken stone tools laying about.

A couple broken stone tools from prodigious lithic scatter at what I believe to be a hunting camp site

The pair of broken tools above, were returned to the ground where they were found after the picture was taken.

Near one of the hunting camps

At the second hunting camp, we took a long break in the shade.  Alan and I agreed that we had best not explore much further, if we wished to get back up and out to the Jeep without really over doing it.  The hiking had been strenuous, all off trail bushwhack, lots of elevation changes over rugged terrain etc.  And we both felt like we should not go much further before turning around or we risked just plain running out of gas trying to get back where we had started from.  So we agreed to continue down canyon for another 30 minutes, then turn around and start the arduous climb back out.

Unknown BCS Panel

After walking down canyon for another half hour, I was looking down into a steep rugged little side canyon that would need to be crossed to keep going, and thinking this would be a good time and place to turn around and head back.  But…  But, but, but…  A bit further down canyon past this little side canyon, was a spot that “looked promising” to me when studying the topo map.  I decided pushing on a bit further and checking one last spot wasn’t going to kill me, so off on down and up the other side I went.  And shortly after, the wall I was interested in came into view and hey – I think I see a big panel up there!  I do see a big panel up there! Cool!!!

View from below
Me for scale
I love the dual tone lines in the anthropomorphs and the horned serpent coming out of the head on the far left one. Note the shoulder treatments on far right figure
The figure far left has three colors of line

A large Barrier Canyon Style panel. I have never seen any pictures of this panel, or heard of it.  There was no trail at all in this canyon.  We were just hiking blind, “hoping to see something”, and we did.  I’ve asked friends with more experience and knowledge of BCS panels than I have, and they have never seen pictures or heard of it either.  While I am positive I am not the first to find it, I am pretty sure that very few ever have.  Too cool! I’m calling it the Hunting Camp Panel because of the nearby camp sites we found.

More Familiar Haunts

Next day, we decided to spend some time revisiting some more familiar sites in the area we were camped. Starting with a hike into a nearby valley to look at some ruins and rock art I have been to before but Alan hadn’t yet.

First stop was another cool BCS panel.

Nice pictograph panel

From that panel, this little butte sticking up out of the valley floor is visible.

Small butte arising from valley floor

They’re difficult to see, but there are ruins perched atop of, on the side and near the bottom of the butte. Must have been one heckuva well defended site in its day.

Hard to see in this view, but several ruins sit atop and perched on the side

Hiking along the valley, there were too many ruins visible on the walls to try and get close to them all. But we got up to a few that I had been to before and knew to be pretty good. This one has a crazy neat rock art panel behind it.

Small ruin with good panel
The spread eagle figure is really unusual

Black Hand Spring Ruin

Then we headed for a really cool ruin. Pic below shows Alan looking up at it.

Thar be ruins up thar!
What a location for a home!
The long climb is almost over
Several structures on a ledge below the main ruin
More structures inside the alcove
Large beams and a T shaped doorway
Structures inside the alcove
I love these mysterious T shaped doorways

People have several different names for this ruin. But Alan called it Black Hand Spring Ruin and I like that name better than any of the others I have heard for it. At the back of the alcove is a spring, with a black hand pictograph above it.

Black Hand Spring
Wider view from the spring and black hand picto

Here’s a really short video tour of the ruin.

Short video tour of Black Hand Spring Ruin

Last Day, More Ruins

On our last morning we hit a couple more good ruins near camp before heading home.

This one is a really big one. It’s totally exposed, so all the mortar has washed away over the seven centuries it has been uninhabited, leaving only bare stacked rocks. Much of it has succumbed to time and fallen down. But the sheer scale and architecture of it is still very impressive.

We did some counting and figured it was at least 20 rooms when it was being lived in.

Big hill top ruin
Looking out the front
Interior view of multi story ruin

One More Ruin

We decided to hit one more ruin. This one has a name, but it escapes me now. I have visited it several times now, and it’s still worth going back for another look.

It’s up there in that alcove.

There’s a neat ruin up in that alcove
Easier to see now

The approach really isn’t difficult. But, if you do mess up right here, you might die.

Don’t slip and fall here
Very strong outside defensive wall
View out the only entrance
This was an easily defended home with a view
Very well preserved two story structure

Other than some less exciting ruins and an old cabin, that’s pretty much all there is to show and tell from the weekend. It was a good one!

The Hunting Camp Panel
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The Hunting Camp Panel
Exploring a seldom seen canyon and finding an unkown Barrier Canyon Style panel.
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12 thoughts on “The Hunting Camp Panel”

  1. Dam Dave,,,,, you outdid yourself, Very Nice,,,,, and that 1st Photo, now thats a “Maze” for sure, you better have all your Shit in one Bag, before going in there,,,,,, again, i like your Style.
    BD in Alaska

    1. And again, I appreciate you stopping by Brad!

      You’re right, too. That country is no place to make a mistake. They find your vehicle, but they don’t find you!

  2. I would love to visit this area, even though im not entirely sure where it is. Thank you so much for sharing. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your write up.

    1. Thanks Tyler! I intentionally leave the location kind of vague. Some of the ruins we visited are well known and the general area easy to figure out. The savvy will even figure out which canyon system the Hunting Camp Panel is in. But, I’m not going to say. Too many of these sites have been spoiled by information on the ‘net.

  3. Greetings from the UK Dave,
    Absolutely amazing place and a great write up, so very interesting.
    Keep up the good work.

  4. Dave,

    Each time I see pictures of BCS panels I wonder…what did the Anasazi see that prompted the painting of horned beings on the walls.
    I’ve seen a few of the same panels on the TV show “Ancient Aliens”
    Thanks again.

    1. It is a mystery. Nobody – absolutely no one, really knows. Lots of interpretations, and one or more might even be right, but nobody can say for sure, so your guess is as good as anyone else.

  5. Hey Dave,
    What a great find! I’ve been to all the other sites in your story but not the “Hunting Camp Panel”. I’d like to talk offline about your find. You have my email if your up for it. Again, great panel.

      1. If you make it back to FV check the blackened areas in the Big Ruin cave. There are BCS figures obscured by the blackening.

  6. Hi Dave,
    A friend made it to the “Hunting Camp Panel”. Thanks for your story/pics.

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