Kirk's Grotto at Gold Butte National Monument

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This page last updated on 03/14/2018

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Directions:  Kirk's Grotto is approximately 13 miles from the staging area at ... Whitney Pocket.  From Whitney Pocket drive approximately 3.8 miles and turn right onto North Mud Wash Road. After another 3.8 miles you will come to the Mud Wash Petroglyphs on the right side of the wash. Click this link to view ... Mud Wash Road PetroglyphsContinuing on for 1.1 miles in Mud Wash go around the corner and you will see a trail heading south up the bank. Continue straight up the incline, around a couple of switchbacks, and to the top of the mesa overlooking Mud Wash. Follow it for about 2.8 miles until it intersects with Backcountry Byway. At the intersection, take the trail to the left and follow it for approximately 2 miles until you reach a post and cable parking corral. This is the trailhead for Kirk's Grotto.

Description: Kurt's Grotto is down at the bottom of the cliff's before you and through the break in the rocks (Fig. 01). The grotto, from here, is about a half-mile down the drop-off, between the two sets of cliffs. Once at the bottom, the trail is fairly flat and leads around to the right.  There are ancient petroglyphs all along the cliffs to the right; the entrance to the grotto is nearly hidden by a large Mesquite tree in its opening. Right-hand picture in (Fig. 03). Petroglyphs are all along the rocks to the right of the entrance, in the tunnel to the grotto. On the left side of (Fig. 04) is one of the most photographed panels, that of the "dying corn plants", perhaps a symbol of a sustained drought causing the corn to die. Perhaps the author is asking for rain. The main panel is located at the very back of the grotto (Fig. 05). It appears that this panel was either created at different times or by different authors. The left portion of the panel is done in a completely different style than the right portion; the glyphs are not drawn as precisely and the line quality is less defined. It seems that the upside down corn plant, surrounded by rain symbols and a rainbow seem to be the theme.  The prayer for rain and lack of food seems to be a central theme in many of the roack art sites in the Gold Butte area. It is believed that many of the Gold Butte panels were created by the Anasazi, who as planters of crops, their survival wa all about the rain. The passageway narrows again on the other side of the grotto but large rocks have fallen and closed it off not much further on. Many of the glyphs here are abstract designs with a large number of circles and connected circles (portals). though relatively few in number, there are some zoomorphs and a few anthropomorphs; one with very large ears or hair bobs. There are a few places that appear to have some very faint pictographs created in red paint. The panel in (Fig. 08) was very high on the west face of the outcroppint to the north of the Grotto outcropping, This panel is a completely different style than the others and is more typical of what is seen on Gold Butte. There areimages of an anthropomorph, sheep, a stylized sheep or coyote, a horizontal journey symbol and an anthropomorph with two circle or spirals on his arms/legs. Unfortunately, the condition of many images in this area are very poor due to erosion. The whole area is illuminated only from the "skylight" above and is therefore 10-20 degrees cooler. Exiting the grotto mouth, look up and to the right and you will see "Kirk's Lizard" (Fig. 06). There are a couple of other minor glyphs on the other side of the canyon, we as well. The hike from the current trailhead to the grotto and back is over 0.6 miles.

03/14/2018 Trip Notes: Today, Harvey Smith, Bob Croke Jim Herring and I made yet another visit to Kirt's Grotto, as well as Devil's Throat, Mud Wash Petroglyphs and Little Findland. For pictures and a description of this visit, go to ... Visit to Gold Butte National Monument - Trip Notes for 03/14/2018.
06/10/2015 Trip Notes: There are actually two ways to reach the back of the grotto area (Fig. 03). The first one between the two cliffs in this figure, the one we chose, is by far the most difficult and requires some rock scrambling. The second on in the picture on the right, guarded by a large Mesquite tree in its opening is actually the preferred route. Both offer slot canyon-like experiences (Fig. 04) and numerous petroglyph panels in different locations (Figs. 07 thru 10). After exploring this area for well over an hour, we sat in the shade of the grotto and had lunch. Even though there were supposed to be a couple more panels on an outcrop to the east of Kirk's Grotto called Babe's Butte, we decided to bypass it on this trip. After taking a few more pictures of the area (Fig. 11), we drove back to Backcountry Byway and began the journey to Little Finland. Click here to view pictures and a description of Little Finland ... Little Finland. On the way we came across a wild donkey (Fig.12). In all of our visits to the Gold Butte Region, this was the first time we had ever spotted a donkey here.

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