Where can petroglyphs be found: Hidden Wyoming

where can petroglyphs be found

Upon our journey to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, we stayed in the small western town of Dubois, Wyoming. We never thought to ask “where can petroglyphs be found?” but, nonetheless, we uncovered the hidden secrets of this cowboy land thanks to the help of some unexpected friends. Like all good travels, a surprising adventure ensued!

ᑭOᔕT ᑕOᑎTEᑎTᔕ:

  • The story behind our discovery
  • Who are these ancient artists & what are petroglyphs
  • How to find these petroglyphs
  • Our petroglyph video
  • Where to stay
  • Nearby things to do
where can petroglyphs be found

<strong>Author:</strong> Mindy Michaels, <a rel=
Author: Mindy Michaels, mindyonthemove.com

Main Photographer: Doug Michaels

My name is Mindy Rose Michaels and I am an avid adventurer and traveler.  I “work to travel” (as I like to say) and thus, live a very unconventional life. My husband, Doug, and I are freelancers in the film industry and work on various reality/doc tv shows for a multitude of networks, such as: Travel Channel, Animal Planet, NBC, Discovery, A&E, Starz, HGTV etc.  Our work keeps us constantly moving and constantly on our toes AND, when we’re not working, you best believe we’re still on the move. Always. Because we love to travel as often and as far as possible.




IMPORTANT: When visiting fragile and sacred sites, like Petroglyphs, use common etiquette!

Petroglyphs are fragile, non-renewable cultural resources that, once damaged, can never be repaired nor replaced. We must all act with care in preserving these cultural landscapes. AVOID TOUCHING the petroglyphs in any way and never, EVER deface them or carve into them in any way, shape or form!


The Story

This travel tale begins on our first night in Dubois, Wyoming as my family and I sat around our campfire. My husband and I were enjoying a few drinks as my parents and brother roasted some s’mores – all under the clear and crisp starry sky. We heard some ruckus from nearby campers, here and there, and figured they were a rowdy bunch enjoying their time (perhaps a little too much). As I wondered about these spirited people, low and behold a stranger from their group staggered on up to our campfire and asked to join in ours. Laughing in dismay, we of course welcomed our surprising new guest (though, my parents seemed a bit reluctant at first).

The Mystery Man

To this day, I cannot (for the life of me) remember this man’s name or face. However, he played a crucial rule in enhancing our adventure amid the Wind River Range. As his thunderous voice relentlessly boomed over our crackling fire, we listened patiently yet unsure to all he had to say. Most of what I remember during his ramblings were…

Firstly, he’s super loud and definitely drunk. Secondly, how much credibility do his words behold? But we were entertained regardless of his state of mind.

Suddenly, my attention piqued and my ears perked as he began telling us of a secret spot not far from our camp where he had happened upon some ancient native petroglyphs. Now keep in mind, before this trip out west, I had never encountered petroglyphs with my own eyes. Thus, the whole tale seemed wild and imaginative to me: I must go in search for these fascinating works of art. It seemed like an exploration akin to the likes of Indiana Jones and, for real, what’s cooler than that?!

Our newfound friend definitely grasped my interest (and that of my whole family) as we further questioned him about this hidden gem: Where do we find these? What tribe drew them? Are they easy to get to? – we all chimed in and happily engaged in further conversation. He, the forthcoming and friendly person that he is, gladly obliged with answer after answer. Though, due to his inebriation, his explanations were unfortunately murky. We now knew of the petroglyph’s existence and their general vicinity but, all in all, how do we know where to begin looking (and where exactly)? We ended our conversations with such uncertainties lingering.

The Quest for More Information

The next day, as we drove in and out of the nearby Grand Teton National Park, I searched online (with minimal service) for the whereabouts of Mystery Man’s intriguing petroglyphs. No luck. None. I couldn’t find any more information, whatsoever. It became clear to me that we needed more precise information before setting off to find this treasure.

That night, in lieu of a campfire, my husband and I decided to visit the local saloon neighboring our camp: Rustic Pine Tavern. This turned out to be an utterly unforgettable night. Clearly standing out like a sore thumb (picture: authentic cowboys and cowgirls in abundance), Doug and I sat alone at the far end of the bar ordering our usual, whiskey and soda. After a couple rounds, just about to call it a night, a lady walks over to me and strikes up conversation…

Enter Susan and the Dubois locals

Honey, you have a kind face. Has anyone ever told you that“? she asked me. To this day, these words still stick with me as one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received (bless her soul for brightening my world with a mere sentence) and from that moment on, I was enamored by my new friend, Susan, and her local relatives.

We spent the rest of the night in Rustic Pine Tavern laughing, dancing, singing-along to Gary Allen hits (her favorite singer) and getting to know one another. I will forever carry Susan’s random act of kindness to me, a stranger, in my memories. Not to mention, we thought we struck gold getting to know some of the locals! Eureka, here’s the answers we’ve been searching for…

“Do you know where we can find some nearby Petroglyphs?” I inquired. “We were told they were down the road a bit (we motioned in the direction).

Not a single soul in that tavern had any clue what we were talking about and, yet again, we were left mystified.

To read more tales of kindness from myself and fellow travel bloggers, check out my collaborative post below:


Never give up

Exhausted from all the exploring and driving we had done in the past few days throughout all of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, we decided we would spend our final day wandering about this beautifully remote region: Wind River Country. And, during our roaming, we would relentlessly search for these petroglyphs, ourselves. At least we had a starting point thanks to Mystery Man from night one: drive east on U.S. Highway 26 for less than 5 miles and then turn right onto a dirt/gravel road.

In less than 5 miles, we came to a similarly describe road to the right marked with ranch signage. Does this lead to a ranch? With all the free time in the world, we didn’t care...it could be it. So we drove, and drove, and drove for what seemed to be an eternity down this bumpy path and passed serene and quiet scenery all the while. Just at the height of afternoon, we arrived to a dead end with a trail marker reading “Glacier Trail Trailhead”. I shrug, “well, at least we can get out and do some exploring here” I exclaim to my family.

We began to climb up and over the large boulders when out of nowhere….

Alas! OMG! “A petroglyph!” one of us signaled. “There’s one over here, too“. “And here!” we all buzzed with great excitement and disbelief as each of us began uncovering the many ancient rock drawings. Even more, we finally found an information stand that further informed of these artworks…

  • where can petroglyphs be found
  • where can petroglyphs be found
  • where can petroglyphs be found
  • where can petroglyphs be found
  • where can petroglyphs be found
  • where can petroglyphs be found
  • where can petroglyphs be found


The Sheepeater Tribe

Wind River Valley’s first inhabitants, the Sheepeater people roamed these lands thousands of years before the arrival of European settlers, leaving behind remnants of tools and artifacts along with their petroglyph carvings. Furthemore, the Sheepeater tribe is thought to be the ancestors of the modern-day Shoshone tribes. Unfortunately, their peaceful way of life ended when Yellowstone became a national park and they were forced off their lands and onto reservations as result. Are you wondering why they were named Sheepeater if they were living so harmoniously? Their name comes from the fact that they sustained their way of life by hunting and eating the residing big horn sheep (ah ha! makes sense).

For more information on these incredibly interesting people, check out this Legend's of America article here.


What exactly are Petroglyphs?

In short, petroglyphs are ancient rock carvings created by pounding a stone chisel and hammer-stone directly onto a rock’s surface. These symbols are full of speculation and awe: what do they mean? I couldn’t help but wonder about the mysterious forces that lead to such creative depictions – some looked very unearthly and made my mind conjure some crazy conspiracies. Others were less as curious, like the obvious sheep carvings etc (see what I mean in the above photo slideshow). Without doubt, petroglyphs were a form of communication and held high ceremonial importance for the native tribes who wandered this land far before my ancestors had set foot on it. Though their exact meanings are unknown, it’s clear that they carried great significance to their people as powerful cultural symbols. Petroglyphs reflect the religion of the surrounding tribes and were pivotal to its sacred landscape.


How to find these Sheepeater Petroglyphs

Coordinates: 43.4259326, -109.5727796

Area known as: Torrey Basin

Driving Directions: Head east from Dubois, Wyoming on U.S. Highway 26. After about 4 miles, turn right onto Trail Lake Road and continue down this gravel/dirt road for another ~9 miles. When you come to a slight fork, stay to the left to keep on Trail Lake Road. This will lead you to a dead end where you’ll find Glacier Trail Trailhead and signage.

Park your car here and begin searching along all the boulders near the side of the road and upward. You’ll find many petroglyphs hidden on the boulders’ backs and spread out across this surrounding area. Happy hunting!

  • where can petroglyphs be found
  • where can petroglyphs be found
  • where can petroglyphs be found
  • where can petroglyphs be found


Our video of the Petroglyphs we saw here, in Torrey Basin

“Sheepeater Petroglyphs Torrey Basin, WY – Western Landscapes Episode 5”

– filmed by my husband, Doug Michaels

Western Landscapes is Doug’s 6 part nature series shot exclusively on the iPhone, utilizing its Slo-Mo and Time-lapse features. Each part features a different location out west, including: Badlands National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Torrey Basin WY, Arches National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Doug chose to use very minimal gear on this trip to challenge his cinematography skills. In the past, he’s traveled the country many times with some of the best, latest and greatest cameras so, this time, he wanted something much simpler, quicker and just plain fun! That way he could focus purely on capturing the beautiful landscape. Without further ado…


Where to stay in Dubois, Wyoming

We opted to stay in a minimalistic cabin at the Dubois/Wind River KOA Campground. Though we camped in a tent throughout the rest of our western road-trip, this was a nice little break for the family to enjoy. And, it’s the next closest thing to camping in a tent. The cabin contains 3 beds (a twin bunk-bed and one full/queen bed). Guests have to use the campground restroom to go to the toilet and to shower. However, there was a little porch with a wooden swing and a fire pit in the front yard area – those were all we really needed! We spent our evenings and mornings basking in the fresh mountain air.

Doug and I particularly enjoyed its proximity to the town’s main strip and tavern. We were able to paint the town at night without the worry of driving anywhere (intoxicated). Even more, we could all walk directly out of our cabin to any of the restaurants and shops nearby. True, I prefer to be in the backcountry wilderness, but if that is not an option (such as on a family trip), this was the next best thing!

One of my favorite memories from that trip is waking up and cooking breakfast out on the camp stove in Dubois, surrounded by the mountains and breathing in its mountain air” – my dad.

Dubois/Wind River KOA cabin cost: $95 avg./night

Other places to stay:

Utilize TripAdvisor for your Dubois, Wyoming vacation planning needs!


Nearby Things to Do

↪ Visit Grand Teton National Park (and, of course, its neighboring park: Yellowstone).

Known as the “three beasts“, South, Middle and Grand Teton are incredibly majestic and rugged peaks among the Teton Mountain Range and part of Grand Teton National Park (just south of Yellowstone and about 55 minutes away from Dubois, WY).  As far as staggering, imposing and dramatic are concerned, these three peaks take the top spot in the United States.  Their uninviting sharpness is challenging and a force to be reckoned with – and, to me, there’s something magnificent in the way her mountain tops seem unobtainable.

For breathtaking views at sunset/sunrise, head to T.A. Moulton Barn among the Mormon Row Historic District in Teton County.  My husband and I were fortunate enough to have this place (for the better part of our time) to ourselves and enjoyed one of the most stellar evenings just watching mother nature’s grand show at the base of such grandiose mountains.

  • where can petroglyphs be found
  • where can petroglyphs be found
  • where can petroglyphs be found
See how Grand Teton ranks in my post, "The 22 Most Surreal Destinations in the U.S. West" below.

I hope you delight in the wonder that is the Torrey Basin Sheepeater Petroglyphs and enjoy your time in Dubois, Wyoming as much as we did! Without doubt, this has been my favorite town on the outskirts of the nearby national parks (we also stayed in Cody, WY and Bozeman, MT and I prefer Dubois over both). Dubois feels more authentic and welcoming, more understated and peaceful. Not to mention, its scenery among the Wind River Range is absolutely breathtaking! Furthermore, I hope the mystery of these ancient petroglyphs help keep the memory of its original people alive as you marvel at their imagery and meaning. All in all, expanding your mind and encouraging you to think deep and meaningfully. In the end, such experiences are what travels and explorations are all about, right?!

As always….

Thank you so much for reading and happy travels!


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6 thoughts on “Where can petroglyphs be found: Hidden Wyoming

  1. Suck a great find, and a really interesting story how you came about them too. I love random finds like this. I actually found some Petroglyphs in Hawaii near the resort I was starting at. They were really cool, I had never heard the word before. Glad I went though

  2. I really enjoyed reading about your adventure. How a chance meeting with a man over a camp fire led you on the trail of the Petroglyphs. It must have been a thrilling moment when you found them. We have a keen interest in anthropology and archaeology, so loved your account. Recently we visited some rock shelters in India where one can see what the first expressions of art of early Man.

  3. This is such a cool and unique post! I knew nothing about petroglyphs before this and have never been to Wyoming, so it was all new to me! It’s nice to see blog posts about things off the beaten path 🙂

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