It’s a total lie. The Nine Mile Canyon is more like a 75 Mile Canyon. We took the west entrance into the canyon by way of Wellington and ended up by Strawberry Reservoir.
I could spend a week in this canyon. There are petroglyphs absolutely everywhere. I took a picture of fifty of them and that is just with a quick drive through. There are secondary canyons winding around that likely contain even more figures. We did next to no climbing to get to the figures we saw, and suspected that the really good art was located on the much higher rock walls.
The canyon itself is a geologist’s delight. The dirt and rock are mineral rich and range in colors from green to rich copper. When we were about 20 miles in we picked up water running in the creek. It was red water, running over sandstone, which is unique even in itself.
But even more fascinating, about a mile up the rock changed, as did the water color. It went from densely compacted sandstone/rock layers to larger boulders, and started smelling like sulphur. Alkali was present and the water pooled into green pools. I thought for sure they were hot springs but that wasn’t the case. It was very hard for me to believe that this scene was such a mere short distance upstream from the sandstone brown water area.
Lichen and moss cover a lot of the rock and in one spot I turned over a sandstone piece and found mushrooms. A first for me, finding mushrooms in a desert setting. I had to take a picture of it.
We passed a dozen either abandoned or occupied ranches, and the deeper we got into the canyon, the greener it became, with alfalfa fields. Very pretty.
It has been conservatively estimated that there are at least 1,000 rock art sites in the canyon, containing a total of more than 10,000 individual images. The true figures may be ten times as high, but there is no question that rock art is more concentrated here than anywhere else in North America. The majority is in the form of pecked petroglyphs, and there are many painted pictographs as well. Researchers have also identified hundreds of ancient pit-houses, rock shelters, and granaries, although only a limited amount of actual excavation has been carried out to date. Many of these structures are located high above the canyon floor on cliff ledges, pinnacles, and mesas. They were built by the Fremont, whose presence in Nine Mile has been dated at AD 950–1250. Indeed, Nine Mile Canyon was one of the locations most heavily occupied by the Fremont. In contrast to the purely hunter-gatherer cultures that surrounded them, the Fremont practiced agriculture, growing corn and squash along the canyon bottom. Unlike some Fremont areas, little pottery is found in Nine Mile, suggesting that beans, which must be boiled for hours to become edible, were not an important part of the local diet. The Fremont left irrigation ditches and earthen lodges on the valley floor that could be seen as late as the 1930s, but are no longer visible after generations of modern cultivation. (Wiki, Nine Mile Canyon)
I am going to put all of the petroglyph pictures in a second post. Here are various photos of the canyon itself, including some structures from the abandoned farms.