The Nine Mile Canyon: The World’s Longest and Oldest 'Art Gallery'

By | June 14, 2017

The Nine Mile Canyon in the Utah desert, Western United States, is known as “the world’s longest art gallery” because it is filled with thousands of petroglyphs and pictographs, some over a thousand years old.

The canyon stretches for 40 miles , so it’s not exactly clear why it’s called Nine Mile Canyon. It became a main transport corridor in the region during the 1880s. In 1886, a road was constructed through the canyon, linking Fort Duchesne to the railroad through the city of Price.

Most of the old art on the walls of the canyon was created by the Fremont culture and the Ute people. This art wall is a step back in time.

There are more than 10, 000 individual images.

It was created by the Fremont and Ute Indians who occupied this area some 1, 000 years ago.

The panels of rock art left behind by the Fremont are of such remarkable quality and beauty that the canyon became a destination for archaeologists and tourists alike.

Through the rock canvas, the indigenous people expressed the stories of their tribes. Many of the drawings depict hunting scenes and animal life. Analysis of the location of hunting and hunting-related sites shows that they tend to occur in clusters at or near the mouths of several side canyons.

The site was sacred for the Fremont culture.

Nine Mile Canyon is protected by the Antiquities Act.

Detail of the rock art.

Sadly, the rock art of the canyon is at risk. It is carved and painted mainly on surfaces of weathered sandstone panels; the carved drawings are susceptible to erosion, which is accelerated by touching and airborne dust. The dust is a special concern as heavy industrial traffic in the canyon increases.

In 2004, due to increasing energy development and recreational and tourist traffic, the site was added to the “America’s List of 11 Most Endangered Historic Sites” by Historic Preservation.

The land is held by a variety of state and federal authorities.