Being the petroglyph aficionado that I am, a brochure for the Legend Rock State Petroglyph Area caught my eye outside the Thermopolis State Bath House. I asked the bathhouse attendant how far away the petroglyph site was and he blatantly ignored me and just kept going about his business.
I browsed the brochure a little while longer before I sighed and said annoyingly, “Gee I wish I knew where this site was,” to which the oh so friendly park worker finally replied, “Yer going to need a permit.” “Say huh?” I wondered out loud as he slapped a permit complete with 4 or 5 carbon copies onto the desk.
After filling out my name, address, driver’s license number, and license plate number I was handed a key and detailed directions to the site. I guess vandals have destroyed several of the ancient writings so the state of Wyoming was trying to keep the site secret and difficult to access.
We headed out of Thermopolis on Highway 120 as I navigated the cryptic hand drawn map and painfully detailed directions that constantly warned of easily missed turns. Funny, since the map and directions were totally unnecessary since “this way” to Legend Rock signs marked all the turns.
We arrived at the gate and I tried the key. It fit! I hopped on the gate, kicked off the ground, and rode the gate as it opened. As Chris drove through I promptly locked the gate and jumped in the car. I was overly psyched. I still thought that this site must be phenomenal with the locked gate, dirt roads and all. Before I could get out of my mouth, “I wonder how far we go now,” we were already at the parking area.
So why did we need a key? We could have just hopped the fence or hurdled the electric fence and walked the half-mile to the petroglyph site. I guess vandals only vandalize what they can drive right up to or so the State of Wyoming believes.
From the parking lot we headed out in opposite directions since our treasure map ended in the parking area and we had no idea where the petroglyphs were actually located. I found a sign pointing the way to the petroglyphs on the ground, but the arrow was aimed at a distant oil derrick located across a flat, barren field.
I found a trail and followed it along a rock wall until I spied the first of many petroglyphs. The carvings were unlike any other I had seen before – blob people all intertwined with abnormal numbers of fingers and toes.
Maybe it was the hundred plus degree heat, the swarms of mosquitoes, or the low humming of the nearby oil derricks, but I was totally unimpressed. I gladly returned the key in the drop box on the way out and said see ya later Legend Rock.