I have a very vague memory of a family exploratory trip out to Stansbury Island as a kid. I was maybe 7 or 8 years old. I can't recall much--there was a particularly rocky and steep road that seemed too rough for our truck to climb, and there was a stop at a little sandy beach to soak in the Great Salt Lake and build sand castles.
But what impressed me the most on that trip were the petroglyphs we found scattered on several boulders near the lake's shores. It's the first time I can remember being really mesmerized by these cryptic messages from the distant past.
As time wore on, the memory faded, and the rock-art site's location was completely forgotten.
Once again, my brother Eros was able to expertly sleuth out the lost location.
After he told me where they are, I realized they are near the end of one of my favorite bike rides, so I figured I could kill two birds with one stone.
The Stansbury Island Mountain Bike Trail is a very underrated little trail. It starts out with a protracted and challenging climb with a couple of tricky switchbacks as it work its way up to a saddle above the Provo level shoreline of old Lake Bonneville. The trail then drops back down to the shoreline and follows the ancient shore's well-developed platform for a few miles. The views of the lake and nearby ranges never disappoint. At the end of the singletrack, most trail guides recommend dropping down to a graded dirt road and winding around on the flatlands back to the trailhead. An out-and-back on the singletrack has always made more sense to me.
Snow doesn't stick for long on the island so the trail is typically rideable year round.
Just leaving the trailhead.
View from where the singletrack ends.
Originally flat-lying layers of limestone (blue) and siltstone (yellow), the layers here have been churned up into irregular blebs. This was most likely caused by bioturbation (disturbed by burrowing animals) or by overburden pressure (the silt and lime have different strengths and therefore behave differently when under pressure).
The petroglyphs are on the southeast side of the island. They are very old and the elements have taken their toll. I was in a hurry, so I didn't get to all of them, but here is a sample:
The site is called Stansbury Site #2 in Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Utah. According to the book there is another site on the west side of the island [Eros, I'll be disappointed if you don't find these too]. The book also claims the best petroglyphs are on a large boulder that was removed from the island and is now on display at BYU's Archeological Museum in Provo.
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