Do the Hills in Utah have eyes?

Rae Gifford Research

Every once in a while we come across an oddball document in the Archives and we just have to share it! I found this one last fall and have been waiting for just the right time to blog about it… I thought maybe Halloween might be it… I mean, when best to write about skulls in rocks?

In 1993, a Canadian, Mr. Bob Nixon, was camping in our fair state and took some time to stop at Newspaper Rock. He took a few photographs, possibly solved a mystery, and sent a letter to our Division of Parks and Recreation with his theories. I figure he tells the story best:

Dear Utah Division of Parks & Recreation,
Are you ready for your whacked out letter of the day? Hang in there, there may just be something to this, and – don’t look at th e photos just now.

On October 15, 1993 I was on my way to the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park and stopped at one of your Parks – “Newspaper Rock” – to see the petroglyphs. Perhaps I am imagining it but I seem to recall reading along the way that no one is quite certain why there is such a proliferation of petroglyphs at this particular place. Wait a minute, I am getting ahead of myself.

Side note: Newspaper Rock is one of Utah’s famous rock sites that is filled with the markings of the early indigenous peoples. More than 650 petroglyphs, created by the the Fremont, Ute, and Anasazi tribes, can be seen at the site. Newspaper Rock “is also called Tse’ Hane in Navajo, or ‘rock that tells a story.’” Mr. Nixon is also correct, at this time “scholars are undecided as to [the petroglyphs’] meaning or have yet to decipher them.”

Now back to the letter. Where were we… Oh yes….

The campground was full at Needles so I backtracked and camped at one of the sites you provide across, and just down the road from, Newspaper Rock, (see the first photo).

A blue camping van parked in brush and trees.

Photo 1: The camping van

I made dinner. I was inside the van eating when I looked outside the window. I felt like someone was looking back at me. Trust me, this is not a UFO abduction letter. I was staring at Newspaper Rock, and it, in turn, was staring back at me.

OK now for some recreation, and activity, judging by where I’m sending this, with which you should be familiar. Look at the middle of the second photo. And, just above the shrubs see if you can see what was staring back at me. No peeking at the third photo.

Rocks and shrubbery.

Photo 2: Can you see someone peeking over the bushes?

Got it? Neither did anyone else who happened by I showed it to. The next day I went to Needles and told one of the Park Rangers. He said no one had ever said that. He was dubious, no, make that incredulous. Sigh.

On my way back from Needles I stopped at the campsite for the last time and took the third photo. OK you can look now…

face of a man in the rock face above the shrubbery.

Photo 3: Can you see him now?


I finally got around to cataloging the photos from my trip a while ago and showed the photo, and told the story, to several people. They all see it, see him, the face of THE INDIAN.

Both eyes, nose, mouth, and jaw are distinguishable, as is his throat and right shoulder. Now guess what is his chest. Right, Newspaper Rock!

Could it be that another theory to explain why there are so many petroglyphs here is that they were decorating him?

I have sent a copy of this letter to those naysayers at Needles 🙂 And, if BLM has indeed taken over Newspaper Rock I’d appreciate it if you forwarded this to them.

An unsolved mystery solved? Or just another Canadian suffering from an electrolyte imbalance? It’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it!

Have a great day. Hard to imagine how you couldn’t. You are in a great state.

face of a man in the rock face above the shrubbery, we have outlined the features.

Photograph with the features traced.


Bob Nixon


Could you see it? What I see looks more like Darth Vader’s helmet than the face of a man, BUT Mr. Nixon could be onto something. If you weren’t able to see it, one of our staff members outlined it for you:

If you are interested, you can also read Mr. Nixon’s original letter online:  Page 1, Page 2


Have you visited Newspaper Rock recently? Can you still see a face? If you have a more recent picture, share it with us so we can check it out!