Wyoming is best known for its incredible Yellowstone National Park, but there are plenty of other attractions in the state as well. Visit the White Mountain Petroglyph site and one will see a remarkable world full of petroglyphs and eye-catching handprints carved into the soft sandstone. They are one of the most intimate and tangible connections with the ancestors of the past who once called the region home.
Another great location to see ancient petroglyphs is Nine Mile Canyon. Nine Mile Canyon is known as the 'world's largest art gallery in Utah and is home to thousands of artworks in the rock from the past. Yet another great location is the Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico which is home to around 24,000 petroglyphs hailing from a bygone era.
Why The White Mountain Petroglyphs Are Unique
The White Mountain Petroglyph site is home to hundreds of carved figures found around the sandstone cliffs. It is one of Wyoming's main rock art sites and is a must for anyone traveling through the region. Located in Wyoming's Red Desert, they were etched into the stones between 200 and 1,000 years ago.
White Mountain is a long mountain that's part of the Green River Formation. It is located in Wyoming's Sweetwater County and the closest cities are rock Springs and Green River.
- Location: Wyoming's Red Desert
- Age: Between 200 and 1,000 Years Old
- Depict: Bison and Elk Hunts, Geometric Forms, Footprints
The petroglyphs depict bison and elk hunts, geometric forms, and tiny footprints. One of the most notable features is the handprints worn into the rock.
They offer a unique and special version of Southwest Wyoming’s history and a time capsule into the Plains and Great Basin Native Americans in the past. One can learn about the legacy of their lifestyle and a site they considered sacred.
- Tribes: Include The Shoshone, Arapaho, and Ute tribe
Besides having petroglyphs from the ancient past, some even tell the tale of contact with European cultures. Some figures portray horses and even warriors brandishing a sword.
Handprints Worn Into The White Mountain Rock
Perhaps the most striking feature of the White Mountains in Wyoming is the handprints. They have been formed from hundreds of years of people visiting and making the same motion with their hands on the rock. The effect of so many people drawing their hands across the soft sandstone for hundreds of years has had the effect of carving their handprints deep into the rock.
- Created: 1,000 and 1,800 AD
- Created By: Ancestral Eastern Shoshone
The handprints were created by the Ancestral Eastern Shoshone between 1,000 and 1,800 AD. They are a compelling connection for people today with the people who visited the site long ago.
Visiting The White Mountain Petroglyphs
Today the White Mountain Petroglyphs are something of one of Wyoming's best-kept secrets. It only receives around 12,000 visitors annually (despite being free to visit). But it is one of the unique locations to learn about Native American tribes of the region. Here one can learn about an aspect of the heritage of four Native American tribes.
- Admission Fee: None
- Address: Rock Springs Field Office280 Highway 191 NorthRock Springs, WY
- Coordinates: 41.889548, -109.259761
- Visitors: Around 12,000
To get to the park, take State Highway 191 north to the mile marker 10. Then it is east down on County 4-17 for 13 miles before the White Mountain Petroglyphs access route. After reaching the parking lot, one needs to hike a steep path around two-thirds of a mile long.
- Photographs: Permitted
The site is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Refer to their website for any updates on access to the site, visitors can also call them at 307-352-0256 or email them at email@example.com for any questions one may have.
Visitors should also be aware that this is an off-the-grid experience. One may struggle with cell service. The access roads may be a little rough so vehicles with high clearance are better - bring drinking water.
For ADA Accessibility can be arranged through the Field Office so that one can use the Administrative Use gate.
When visiting, one should treat the site with respect as it is considered sacred by the local Native American tribes of the region. No one should touch the rock face.