Browsing mapping software for lesser known landmarks is essential when planning a tour of the west. The space between the primary western destinations can be hundreds of miles apart, so looking for unique points of interest along the way is the best way to break up the monotonous long drive. The BLM Public Lands of the west abound with lesser known destinations that are rarely advertised in motel tourism brochures. All that is required to find these places is to take a closer look or use mapping software that reveals finer details.
The Sand Island Petroglyph Panel is a good example of a lesser known BLM destination that is very easy to overlook when planning a trip in southeastern Utah. Highway 191 is the main tourism corridor in this region and this road is the local pathway to Monument Valley, Bears Ears, Canyonlands, Moab and Arches National Park. Since there are so many world famous destinations in this region, it becomes easy to ignore the small specks on the map, which is a regrettable mistake. It is all too easy to drive right past the Sand Island Petroglyph Panel when in a hurry, yet taking the time to check it out will greatly enhance the long drive between the big local National Parks.
The Sand Island Petroglyph Panel is located on Highway 191 between Mexican Hat and Bluff, Utah. The roadside signage is minimal, so it pays to not blink an eye or the access road will be passed by. The dirt road is well maintained and it is only a short distance to the petroglyphs, so a regular passenger car can access this historic landmark. Sand Island is also campground and a boat launch on the San Juan River, so this little speck on the map actually is a prime attraction where a few days can easily be spent.
The Sand Island Petroglyph Panel is a very large one, so be prepared to be totally mystified when trying to decipher the meaning of each ancient carving. Hours can be spent meditating over the ancient past, because this petroglyph panel has a very long timeline. Some carvings are only a few centuries old, while others date back well over 3,000 years. The same rock art styles can be viewed at other petroglyph sites in the Bears Ears region and all along the San Juan River. As can be imagined, this is the homeland of several big ancient civilizations that still flourish in modern times.
The cultural significance of the Sand Island Petroglyph Panel simply cannot be understated. This is reason enough to check out this lesser known BLM Recreation Area when doing a tour of the big National Parks in southeast Utah. For those who actually plan a tour of the western petroglyph sites, the Sand Island experience will surely help to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The ancient rock art is a window into the past and all it takes is one look to have memories to ponder over for a lifetime!
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