Rock Art Site Etiquette

Figure with hoop - McConkie RanchClay Johnson, 1997

  • Minimize the number of vehicles going to the site. Stay on existing roads. Do not “pioneer” vehicle trails or parking areas.

  • Do not camp or build fires within one-quarter mile of rock art.

  • Do not disturb lithics, firepits, rock arrangements, or other artifacts and site features.

  • At rock art sites, stay on trails where they exist. Do not disturb rocks, vegetation, or fragile desert soil crusts.

  • Do not climb or disturb rocks in chimneys, slots, or gaps in the rock cliffs at rock art sites.

  • Do not hike or climb above rock art panels.

  • Do not touch in any way the rock art or the cliffs within 100 feet of rock art.

  • Where possible, stay at least 10 feet from the rock art.

  • Do not attempt to remove graffiti, chalking, lichen, or bird droppings from rock art.

  • Do not apply any substance including liquid, powder, plastic, cloth, paper, or even strong floodlight, to or over rock art.

  • Do not allow pets, children, or careless associates to behave improperly around rock art.

  • Follow the rules of the site landowner or public land manager where they are more restrictive than above.

  • If some of the above seem overly restrictive due to site location, rock type, salvage status or other factors, the essence of etiquette (and ethics) is to behave better than strictly necessary.

  • Take time to appreciate the beauty of the site surrounding the rock art. Look at the mountains and canyons, the waters, the plants, the wildlife. Listen to the native sounds. Feel the sun and wind. Sit still until the birds come out, and the lizards climb your leg.

  • Take time to appreciate the intricacy and detail of each rock art panel itself, rather than trying to see the maximum number of panels. Don’t try to interpret the panel, just sit quietly and watch. Give the rocks time to see you.

  • Use binoculars to study, and telephoto lens or freehand sketches to record panels and panel details. See the panel as an integral part of the site.

  • Be constantly aware of the effects of your actions (and the actions of others) at rock art sites. Make your behavior a model, and speak out when needed to prevent damage to rock art.