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In Our Back Yard – Nine Mile Canyon

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Seventy-fourbrmiles eastbound on Highway 6 from the junction with I-15 you will be at the Chevronbrgas station in Wellington. A left turn on 2200 East, known as Soldier Creek Road,brwill begin an amazing display of Utah ranching history and prehistoric rockbrart.  

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Nine MilebrCanyon, which is 27 miles long, has been called the world’s longest artbrgallery. More than 1,000 rock art sites have been identified and classified inbrthe canyon. Many sites can easily be viewed from the paved road. Some of thebrhistory and pictograph sites are marked with signs and many others are not. Forbrthat reason, the most interesting and accessible features are described withbrmileage references. This is a great family outing to share history with thebrkids.

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At thebrsoutheast corner of the gas station parking lot is a BLM information kiosk thatbrwill help you understand what lies ahead. Zero your odometer and start yourbrday’s adventure. At 12.5 miles you will pass the abandoned Soldier Canyon CoalbrMine. About a mile and a half up the road you will see the remnants of an oldbrhomestead on the left. The bridge you cross is Minnie Maude Creek.  

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It is just abrshort distance to the Nine Mile Ranch property sign. The road to the ranchbrheadquarters is on the right at 23.7 miles. It is a working ranch with touristbrservices such as a campground, cabins, bunk ‘n breakfast, showers, a countrybrstore, and guided tours of the canyon. It sounds like a neat place to spend abrfew days. This is also a good place to zero your odometer for the nextbrreference points up the canyon.

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Just 2.5brmiles up the road from Nine Mile Ranch are the first major panels ofbrpictographs. You know you are about there when you see a yellow road sign on thebrright side of the road with a person walking. A short distance up the road asbrit starts to curve, you will see a widened pave area for parking on the rightbrside of the road.

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A sign offbrthe right side of the road has an arrow pointing to the left and the messagebr“First Site.” They are on the left side of the road and protected with a woodenbrfence. There are several pictographs along the rock wall, some are easy to see,brand others are a little faint and difficult to see.

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Anbrinteresting set of pictographs are above the others on a rock ledge. Up thebrroad about a mile is Cottonwood Glen day-use area with picnic tables andbrrestrooms. At 30.5 miles you will find a few old buildings that are all thatbrremains of the town of Harper which at one time had a hotel, school, and postbroffice. The town, originally called Lee Station, was a stagecoach stop in thebrlate 1800’s.

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The nextbrpictographs are on the left side of the road near a balanced rock at 31.9 milesbrcalled Pig Head Rock because it looks like the cartoon character Porky Pig. Justbrbefore Pig Head Rock there is a short trail on the left that leads to somebrpictographs about 60 feet off the road and about 5 feet above ground level.  

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At about 33.4brmiles look to your left halfway up the hillside on the smooth black face andbryou will see a large snake carved in the rock. With binoculars look to thebrright of the snake and you can see many small figures, birds, and trees carvedbrin the rock. P Nutter’s Ranch is at 37.8 miles, which was another stagecoachbrstop with a hotel and saloon. A lot of stories can be told about this place. Justbrpast the Nutter’s Ranch is the Gate Canyon Road on your left, which will bebranother article someday.

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In about 0.3brmiles past Gate Canyon there are several pictograph panels on the left justbrbefore a cattle guard. At 38.8 miles stop on the right edge of the road afterbrcrossing another cattle guard, look down the road to the east, then look 30 degrees to the left, and then about 300 feet up the cliff for abrlarge and well-preserved granary. Study the rock wall carefully because it doesbrblend into the surrounding rocks very well. Binoculars will make it easier tobrfind the granary.

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Dry Canyonbrenters the main canon from the right. At this point, you can look to your rightbracross the canyon and you will see an interesting rock formation called “ThebrMummy”. Look to the left canyon wall from this location, and you will see abrlarge alcove known as “Rassmussuen’s Cave”. There are some excellentbrpictographs on the walls of the cave.

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A shortbrdistance up the road are restrooms and a corral with a loading chute in what isbrknown as Daddy Canyon. Directly behind the loading chute is an impressivebrpictograph panel. There are many more pictographs along the canyon walls inbrthis area.

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In anotherbrmile there is a fork in the road, and for the purpose of this trip you want to continuebrup Cottonwood road to the right. The left-hand fork is Lower Nine Mile Canyonbrand the subject of another trip.

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The roadbrcurves around a ridge that has the remnants of a Fremont village on its upperbrslope. There is a sign directing you to the hiking trail to the village site atbr45.5 miles. The remains of the village are pretty run down. However, you canbrsee the outline of several pit houses.

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The BigbrBuffalo Panel is located across the canyon at 45.7 miles and requires a hike tobrthe east wall of the canyon. There is a well-defined hiking trail to it, and itbris well worth the hike.

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Another 0.2brmile up the road at 45.9 miles on the odometer is the famous Hunter Panelbrpictograph. This is one of the finest pictograph panels to be found anywhere.

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You havebrtraveled 46 miles through Nine Mile Canyon and been introduced to the historybrand rock art of this amazing place. Please enjoy the sites and respect theirbrheritage. (Helmick is a Serve Daily contributor.)

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