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Voices from the Past: Nine Mile Canyon lures visitors for long weekend jaunt

Nine Mile Canyon is a step back in time and it's a perfect getaway for a daytrip this Fourth of July.

The stories of people who lived there centuries ago grace the walls of sheer cliffs. This canyon, filled with the best pictographs and petroglyphs in the west, gives a view of the life of ancient Native Americans. This unique canyon outside of Wellington, is an international treasure.

Nine Mile Canyon's rock art has been featured in National Geographic and many other publications because of its beauty and intensity. Over 1,000 sites have been catalogued to date. Large panels of pictographs and petroglyphs can be found just a few feet from the road. Travelers can wonder at the meaning of the carvings of goats, people, calendars and Indian Gods.

Nine Mile Canyon is surrounded by foreboding desert mountains, cactus and brush-filled dunes and peaks.

The Native Americans, farmers, outlaws and ranchers who dared to live in this canyon have fought every ugly element known to Mother Nature. Only the toughest humans that have lived amid these rocky walls have survived.

This untouched wilderness allows travelers to see the rock art created centuries ago in the setting that it was created. The varied styles of rock art and evidence discovered by archeologists show that this canyon has been home to Native American Indians for thousands of years. One Bureau of Land Management archeologist estimated there are at least 10,000 archeological sites in the canyon.

The College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum in Price is a good place to begin a journey through Nine Mile Canyon. Advice from locals who know the area, roadside guidebooks and brochures are available there.

Nine Mile Canyon is a wilderness area. It is advised that visitors take plenty of food and water, check weather conditions and if possible travel in two vehicles.

Nine Mile is an outdoor museum with remarkable examples of Native American rock art and remnants of dwellings. The area contains the greatest concentration of rock art in the United States.

The rugged, remote canyon begins 20 miles north of Wellington and stretches 40 miles along the northern side of the Book Cliffs. The Nine Mile rest area offers toilets, picnic tables, dispersed camping and group facilities.

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