Parowan Gap

Parowan Gap is a major public site an easy three hour drive from Las Vegas: paved roads right up to the parking area. Many other sites known through the archaeological record to have had significant contact with the peoples in the Las Vegas Valley are over our self-imposed limit of two and half  hours or less drive time from metro Las Vegas to the trailhead and usually require at least a high-clearance vehicle. For example, the site-rich Arizona Strip region, south of a line drawn from St. George to Kanab, Utah, cannot be reached from Las Vegas within our drive time limit. There are simply no maintained roads going there directly.

Our self-imposed limit is necessarily artificial. And, of course, our limit had absolutely no influence on our fellow travelers in the region over the millenia. These modern day outliers are treated in this Niche. None other than Parowan Gap and the South Fork of Indian Canyon are formally public, but many are well-known. All are fascinating examples of human expression. We will include them over time as we explore them.

For a start, we have included photos from three sites: Parowan Gap, an intriguing public site in Utah styled the South Fork of Indian Canyon, and an interesting site outside of Fredonia, AZ, called the Clam Shell.

Parowan Gap is considered one of the finest ancient observatories in North America. The South Fork site, situated in a large alcove, is a large wall covered with brightly colored pictographs. The Clam Shell is located not far from a public picnic area south of Kanab, UT, and northeast of Fredonia, AZ. As is so often the case, these few photos do not do these sites justice.

Parowan Gap is reached by paved roads off of I-15. The South Fork of Indian Canyon is located near Coral Pink Sands State Park, and the route to it requires navigating very rough, deep sand. A passenger car can get you to Parowan Gap, while a four wheel drive, high clearance vehicle as well as experience driving through sand is required to get to the South Fork of Indian Canyon. Though I have navigated that sandy route  solo,it was not wise to do so, and I do not recommend it. I won’t do it again. The Clam Shell can be reached with a passenger car, but a high clearance vehicle is a safer bet. Broken glass strewn a;; over the area is a major concern.

Responsible agencies include the Bureau of Land Management in Cedar City, St George, and Kanab, UT; the National Park Service at Zion National Park and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon; and the US Forest Service at Fredonia, AZ.

Approximate travel time to actual site at Parowan Gap, UT: 192 miles; two hours, 54 minutes.

Approximate travel time to base in Kanab, UT: 197 miles; three hours, 3 minutes.

BLM: Arizona Strip Field Office
345 East Riverside Drive
St. George, UT 84790-6714
Phone: (435) 688-3200
Fax: (435) 688-3258
Field Manager:  Lorraine Christian
Hours: 7:45 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday; 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Saturday

Previous Niche      Next Niche