Are you searching for a unique, one of a kind experience that the whole family will enjoy? Do you enjoy learning about ancient cultures? Prefer explorations off the beaten path, where the biggest crowd might be a herd of horses munching grass in a distant field?
Then come along with us to Legend Rock State Historic Site, near Themopolis, Wyoming. Here you will find a world renown collection of ancient Indian petroglyphs, snippets of life forever etched into rock walls by ancient cultures long since gone from this remote region.
Though remote, this is one drive worth your while.
Through The Eyes of Ancient Indian Artists
Due to its’ remote location, Legend Rock State Historical Site is often overlooked, bypassed for other, more popular nearby destinations. All the better for those who take this journey, as the crowds will be practically non-existent. No need to jostle for prime vantage spots here!
Begin the journey at the Visitor’s Center, learning about the history of this treasured historical site. Then head outdoors, down the winding path towards an expanse of nearly vertical sandstone cliffs.
Follow the path as it meanders along the base of the 400 meter long cliff wall. Look high above, and down low too, for evidence of ancient artists who have left their marks upon these cliff walls. It won’t be long before you are inches away from ancient masterpieces created by cultures long since departed.
Nearly 300 prehistoric petroglyphs are etched into these expansive rock walls. Meander quietly, slowly, contemplating as you come face to face with depictions of life long ago. Stop and ponder. What do these petroglyphs mean? Who do they represent? Who created them? What was life like here so long ago?
What do you think these four petroglyphs represent? A hunt for food? An alien visitation? Homage to their Gods? Let your imaginations sore!
Stroll beneath the wings of thunderbirds. Walk beside running elk. Stand next to alien-like figures. Legend Rock has been a sacred Native American Indian site for thousands of years.
It is thought that at least three different Native American cultural groups carved these petroglyphs. Recent archaeological tests show that some of the oldest rock art dates back nearly 10,000 years. Wow. That’s old.
The Legend Rock Petroglyph Site is world-renown for the sheer number of petroglyphs found in one site. Where else can you get so close you can literally reach out and touch them?
But please don’t touch the petroglyphs, and certainly do not add your own images to this fragile site! That’s a big no-no. Sadly, it looks like Ed in 1834 didn’t get the message, huh!
Through The Eyes of Today’s Residents
Though there may be very few two-legged forms of life here, keep a keen eye out for the four-legged versions that make their homes in this seemingly inhospitable landscape.
Have no fear! They are harmless, and the kids will enjoy the distractions. Maybe a lizard or two will skitter across the path, in search of it’s next meal.
Though long ago abandoned by humans, Legend Rock’s current inhabitants are all around. Look closely into that crevice. It may just be the home of a pack rat, escaping the mid-day sun, and the humans strolling by. This one’s kind of cute, don’t you think?
Though these sandstone cliffs may seem uninhabitable to us, these birds find it the perfect location for a cluster of mud-nest homes. Who knows what other forms of life might be found along the paths of Legend Rock State Historic Site!
Getting To Legend Rock State Historic Site
Begin this adventure at the Thermopolis Chamber of Commerce, not at Legend Rock. Due to it’s remote location, the park’s entrance gate remains locked year-round, and you will need to pick up a park gate key at the Chamber of Commerce.
Legend Rock State Historical Site is about a 45 minute drive from Thermpolis Wyoming, but it’s worth the journey. Just beware if you wander off the path in flip flops! A prickly pear cactus might be on your walking path.
Traveler’s Caution: Do not drive to Legend Rock without a gate key in hand!
Traveler’s Recommendation: Ask for directions at the Chamber of Commerce, and have a GPS on hand. This is a remote location!
That’s A Wrap At Legend Rock Petroglyphs!
Legend Rock State Historic Site is an adventure worthy of the drive to it’s off-the-beaten-path location. It was the highlight of our own three-day stay in the Thermopolis area, and one we consider very fortunate to have found.
Have you been to Legend Rock State Historic Site? Do you seek out the “less traveled paths” like Legend Rock? What are some of your favorite lesser-known historic sites? Do share!
Learn more about our adventures in this area at Thermopolis – A Real Place That’s Real Fun.
Read more about what others have to say about the Legend Rock Petroglyphs at Tripadvisor.
All images by C.Biederman