Flickr album link: Waving Hands Interpretive Site
The Canyon Pintado National Historic District is easy to access, but because of the remote location relatively few mainstream tourists visit this place. Canyon Pintado is located on Colorado Highway 139 between Fruita and Rangely in the northwestern end of the state, which definitely is a desolate high desert region that sees very little traffic. The Colorado National Monument is located in Fruita and Dinosaur National Monument is located north of Canyon Pintado, so those who choose this pathway to connect the dots on a map will certainly be in for a pleasant surprise. The Canyon Pintado National Historic District covers about 15 miles of Highway 139 and there are several unique roadside attractions to see, which offer an opportunity to enjoy some fresh air during the long drive.
The signage for the individual Canyon Pintado interpretive sites is easy to spot and most only require about 30 minutes to check out. There are also some lengthy rock art trails that take a few hours to experience, so an entire day can be planned for this destination. Canyon Pintado was discovered way back in the 1770s during the Dominguez-Escalante expedition and the name they chose was appropriate. Ancient rock art from the Fremont indigenous culture adorns this landscape for miles around and some of the archaeological sites date back over 11,000 years. The lengthy timeline shows that this corridor was both traveled through and occupied for many centuries, so there is plenty to ponder over when visiting this sacred place.
The Waving Hands Interpretive Site is one of many roadside destinations to be found in the Canyon Pintado district. There is a small parking area and a short foot path goes directly to the signature Waving Hands ancient rock art. The trail also winds its way around the bluff where more pictographs can be seen and there are also a few petroglyphs in the mix. What the Waving Hands artwork actually means is open to interpretation, so be prepared to meditate for a spell when gazing upon this site!
On a side note, social responsibility does come into play when touring the Canyon Pintado interpretive sites. It is important to remember that the ancient artwork is protected by federal law and the penalties for vandalism are extreme. It is forbidden to touch or deface the ancient artwork and all suspicious activity must be reported.
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