There are very few petroglyph panels that are conveniently located by the roadside out west and there are even less that provide access for those who have mobility challenges. Most petroglyph panels require a drive down a rough dirt road and a hike over challenging terrain, so these cultural points of interest are usually not easy to access. One of the rare roadside petroglyph panels that actually has a boardwalk handicap access can be found in Capitol Reef National Park. This ancient newspaper rock is conveniently located on Highway 24 directly across the street from the Fruita U-Pick orchards.
Starting the day by munching on a few fresh picked heirloom apples while reading the newspaper rock is as good as it gets in Capitol Reef! The Fruita Petroglyph Panel is a very large display that has ancient rock art scattered all over the face of this bluff for a distance of about 50 yards. What is interesting is that there are several groups of rock art etchings that clearly were made by the same artists. The Fremont rock art is most noticeable and this same style can also be viewed in the canyons near Moab and Dinosaur National Monument. Groups of several other tribal artwork motifs can be seen on this wall too and some are much older than the rest.
The Fruita Valley has been a productive agricultural area for thousands of years and the ancient petroglyphs help to confirm this. Viewing the petroglyphs will provide memories to ponder over for a lifetime and in Fruita this is easy to do. The roadside parking is ample and the boardwalk is easy for anybody to traverse. In fact, there are even high power viewing binoculars mounted on the deck at the most popular viewing spot. It is a bit of a distance from the boardwalk to the rock wall, so carrying binoculars or a zoom lens will be a plus, especially when searching for the faint etchings that can barely be seen with the naked eye. The Fruita Petroglyph Panel is great one to tour and a lot can be learned about native culture when pondering over this big newspaper rock!
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