Cañon Pintado Pictographs
"Halfway down this canyon toward the south, there is a very high cliff on which we saw
crudely painted three shields or chimales and the blade of a lance. Farther down on the
north side was saw another painting which crudely represented two men fighting. For this
reason we called this valley Cañon Pintado."
—September 9, 1776
So wrote the first western European to see this area. Since rock paintings or pictographs matching Fray
Escalante's description can still be seen on these cliffs, it is reasonably certain that this is a part of the route
followed by the Dominguez and Escalante expedition as they sought a safer and shorter route to California
from Santa Fe. This rock art was ancient when Fray Escalante viewed it; the paintings were actually
completed by the inhabitants of the Fremont culture which existed in this area from about A.D. 800 to 1150.
The central figure in this panel has been identified as Kokopelli, the hum-backed flute player, and important
figure in the prehistoric art of Arizona and New Mexico. The identification of such figures in widely differing
areas is of major importance in tracing the contact and trade areas of prehistoric people.
Cañon Pintado has been recognized as a significant part of our cultural heritage by its listing (as a district)
on the National Register of Historic Places. Please help us preserve it.