We had heard about the “Ivins Petroglyphs Trail” a few months ago and I knew it was one the kids could do based on friend’s recommendation. I was able to locate the trail and its actual name with ease doing a web search. The Tempi’po’op Trail can be found at the Anasazi Valley (Ridge) Trailhead in the Santa Clara River Reserve. Technically this trail is probably in the city limits of Ivins, UT. The trickiest part of this trail was finding the right place to turn off the main highway! Once you see the sign (in the pic below) take the next left, then head down the road 1/3 mile. The sign can be misinterpreted that you should continue on the highway for another 1/3 mile, but don’t! You’ll miss the turn. Just take the next left where you see a big rock entrance. There is no signage on the entrance, but trust me, the big stacked rocks is where to go. There is also a mailbox at the entrance with the numbers “3333” on it (which is what made us worry it was private property). If you see this, you’re in the right place. Just take a mental note of my pictures and you’ll be all set.
Once you see this sign on Highway 91, take the next left with the big rock entrance.
The big rock entrance off of Highway 91
Roadway back to the parking lot. Just keep driving. You’ll see the trailhead/parking lot when you come around the corner.Once you get to the right place, the dirt road back to the parking lot is easy to navigate through. There is plenty of parking at the trail head (about .3 miles in) and even has parking for RVs. We even saw one come in as we were leaving, so don’t be scared to bring the motorhome. There is a pit bathroom, so if the kids forgot to go (or you did), now is the time!! No drinking fountains, so be sure to bring your own water.
Once you pull in, take some time to read the trailhead bulletin board. It will talk a bit about the history of the trail, and other fun information. There is, of course, a map so you can decide on your final trail. I had no idea there were so many options out here. Our trail is the map in the top left of the picture below. We only went to the petroglyphs and then turned around. Our total trip was approximately 1.2 miles (2.4 round trip).
This trail is incredibly easy. It is referred to as “moderate” on websites, but I believe this is due to the incline of the trail. It is not difficult at all; none of my children needed assistance. However, for a senior citizen with some balance issues or is simply weak, I can see why this might be considered moderate.
There is NO shade on this hike. Do not think you will be able to find a nice shaded place for a picnic. There is only low brush and view for miles! I would recommend spring hikes (any time of day) or early morning/evening hikes in summer. I also imagine that if the weather has seen a lot of rain, you may want to avoid this trail. There is one aspect of the trail that is obviously fighting run-off (numerous tubes have been inserted to try and preserve the trail). I would even say you could take a stroller on this trail, as long as it had the rubber wheels like a jogging stroller. The only tricky part would be the small portion of the trail (seen below) where it began to wash out and the tubes are placed).
The first part of our trail was “boring” to the kids. We had to quickly invent a scavenger hunt and “I Spy” game to keep them from complaining “are we there yet?. Quick Tip: Having a destination goal (even if it is “the tree way up there”) is critical to keep them moving, especially when there isn’t a lot of visual interest (for them) or things to do (other than walk forward). Once you start looking, there is TONS to see. They just have to keep their eyes open. We even spotted a few cottontails! I wasn’t one of the lucky ones, but the kids were so excited. My daughter also loved to find shapes in the walkway from worn out holes (she found a whale and a bigfoot print).
If you follow the exact same Tempi’po’op Trail we did, you will be led first to the farmstead area, and then further up the trail will be the “rock writings” or petroglyphs. I think this is a great educational trail. I love seeing remnants of the Indians that use to live in this area. Be sure to read the plaque. Some of the history was ruined by ATV trails that didn’t realize what they were driving over. This is also a great place to take a water break.
Once you are leaving the farmstead, you have 2 trails you can take to the same spot. If you head left, you will be on a clean and clear trail that zig zags its way up the hill. If you go straight, the trail is much more of an incline, a little rockier, but much shorter. We took the “shortcut” trail on the way up, and then zig-zagged our way back down.
Don’t forget to turn around and check out the view! It is really amazing!
Once at the top, I was expecting to see a great big monument showing where the petroglyphs are (maybe that’s my “big city” girl coming out), however the writings were right on the rocks where you could touch, see and get up close to. The rocks are right on the edge, so make sure if you are a scaredy-cat like me, or have unbalanced little ones, keep an eye out. The rocks are quite flat, and a normal person might be fine, but my heart was beating a little fast.
If you continue up just a bit further, there are a few more writings out on a rock that is indeed “out”. My kids weren’t allowed on this one, but a cute family (all grown-ups) ventured out to the rock for a photo-op we helped them out with. My boys were dying to go out, but I nipped that in the bud pretty quick (such a mean, boring mom!!). Other moms that are braver than me, or have older kids may be fine letting them climb out there.
You can keep heading up the trail and you’ll land at another trailhead in Santa Clara (3.5 miles total), but we just turned back around once we were done with snacks, sight seeing and water. With a lot of lolly-gagging, we spent 2 hours on this trail.
For more specific directions to the trailhead, click here. I think this is a great hike and we will definitely be taking different routes another time.
- Great “scavenger hunt” trail
- Close to town
- Easy to get to (roads, parking, etc.)
- Quick; can be done easily as an evening activity
- No trees or shade
- Will be hot in the summer
- Don’t go on this looking for a “hike”, or to be secluded in the wilderness