Sheep Panel Site at Gold Butte National Monument

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This page last updated on 03/14/2018
(Fig. 01)
04/25/2017 Trip Notes: Today, Harvey and I took Jim Herring and Bob Croke to the 21-Goats Petroglyph site. This amazing petroglyph panel (Fig. 02) is one of the best I've ever observed. Unlike on my last trip, we decided to hike the immediate area around the site. The area surrounding the petroglyph was covered with Cryptobiotic Soil (Fig. 03). Click here to read about this ... Cryptobiotic Soil. We were also able to get several pictures of some spring flowers (Figs. 04 & 05). Hiking a short distance opposite the petroglyphs there were some uniquely rough rock formations (Fig. 06). Hiking up to the top of the nearby ledges provided us with some beautifully views that looked down over a hundred feet to the valley below (Fig. 07). The range of gorgeous colors found below this area are common of those in Gold Butte (Fig. 08). Hiking back down off of these ledges and back into the wash for the hike back to the trailhead, ther was a beautiful view of Black Butte (Fig. 09).
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09/30/2014 Trip Notes: After leaving the area of the Khota Circus Petroglyphs, we headed back to Black Butte Road and headed northwest up the road to the intersection of the 21 Goats Road which leads up a wash on the east side of Black Butte Road just north of Black Butte. About 1,500 feet down this road you will come to a barrier preventing any further vehicle travel. This is the trailhead for the 21 Goats Petroglyphs. It is sometimes referred to as the "The Sheep Parade" or the "Sheep Panel" in BLM documents. The argument over whether the animals depicted are sheep or goats still hasn't been settled, however, the book "The Rocks Begin To Speak" by Native American cryptanalyst LaVan Martineau uses the term "goat", most probably due to the extensive "horn" structure and other features. I feel that the term "21 goats" is more descriptive, but who really knows. Less than 200 feet beyond the trailhead you will see a side trail that leads south across the wash. This trail will take you to the Black Butte Dam. Continuing straight up the main road/wash for about 0.4 miles will take you to the 21 Goats Petroglyph site. Just as the wash starts to make a wide sweeping turn to the right the petroglyphs are on a cliff side almost straight ahead, just a little to the left (Figs. 10 & 11). Unfortunately for us they were in direct sunlight at the time of our visit in the late afternoon, making less than ideal photographing opportunities. Without doubt, this is one of the longest petroglyphs panels I have encountered. There are two rows of glyphs, with the upper row being at least 25-30 feet long. As you can clearly see (Click to enlarge) in (Fig. 01), the upper row contains twenty-one zoomorphs (goats or big horn sheep) in a single line. Below and to the left of this depiction, there are two more sections (Figs. 13 & 14) containing some abstract glyphs, as well as another dozen zoomorphs. Interestingly enough, of all the depictions here, this entire panel seems to contain only one glyph that may be representative of a human figure. Though there were many Indian tribes who used this area as a migration corridor, the petroglyphs are probably Virgin River Anasazi (Ancestral Puebloan). It has been estimated that some of these glyphs are more than 500 years old.

Note: Martineau notes that the bighorn does not always necessarily stand for the actual animal, but rather represents travel and direction; that how the horns are "written" has specific meaning. Looking at these depictions you can see many different variations. Some "goats" are level, some tilted uphill others downhill. Some horns are arches, others right angles. Some feet are fluid and limber others like sticks and still others split in two at the hooves. Some are clearly traveling along side a pecked line or "trail" and a couple are going the opposite direction. Some horns are longer over the back and others short. Some animals are full and others are stick-like figures. Unfortunately, even Martineau's understanding of these various meanings appears to be clearly minimal.
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