Flickr album link: Twenty One Goats
Twenty One Goats is one of the largest petroglyph panels in Gold Butte National Monument and it truly is a remarkable sight to see. Accessing this ancient sacred rock art is not easy for many reasons having to do with the overall road conditions in Gold Butte and because of the environmental extremes. A 4x4 high ground clearance vehicle will be needed to get to either of the trailhead starting points on Black Butte Road. One trail starts at the main rock art area and a few miles further down the road is where the Twenty One Goats Trailhead is located, but it is unmarked and it is very easy to drive right past. Both trails are part of Black Butte Dam Loop, which includes the Falling Man Trail and an extension of this pathway goes to Twenty One Goats. Getting to this place from the Falling Man Trail requires scaling and a few dangerous obstacles while the Twenty One Goats trail from the dirt road starting point is an easy walk over fairly level ground. It may take some time to figure it all out while onsite, but one thing for sure is there will be plenty of footwork to do. Hiking in this park is best done during the cold weather seasons, since the summer temperatures exceed 110ºF and any chance of rescue might as well be a million miles away.
Upon the entry into this maze of rock outcrops, buttes and dry wash ravines, it quickly becomes evident that this area is a natural fortress that was capable of sheltering a large community. The scattered ancient rock art along the trail confirms this notion and the literal maze of nooks and crannies imparts a feeling of this being a spiritual place. Soon the trail enters a large natural alcove and the Twenty One Goats Panel can be seen across the field. Upon first sight it easy to stand and stare in amazement as the etchings on this gigantic rock panel are recognized and the interpretation process begins.
Every ancient petroglyph wall has many stories to tell and this one in particular features a large herd of bighorn sheep, which were misidentified as goats by whomever named this place. Bighorn were plentiful in this region before pioneer livestock diseases nearly wiped them out and this big petroglyph panel certainly confirms this thought. Hours upon hours can be spent figuring out the many meanings of the inscriptions and hundreds more petroglyphs await along the trail to Falling Man.
This ancient rock art area is highly protected during the cooler seasons and the extreme heat is the best defense during summer. It is every visitor's responsibility to report vandalism and suspicious behavior and there actually is a cel phone signal in this area. It is important to remember that the ancient rock art is for your eyes only and it is illegal to touch or deface.
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