Along the access road to Canyonlands, thirty miles east of the entrance, Newspaper Rock is a little mystery that will likely never be solved. It is a large slab of rock covered with desert varnish (a blackish manganese-iron deposit that gradually forms on exposed sandstone cliff faces due to the action of rainfall and bacteria) into which have been inscribed numerous petroglyphs. The older images are becoming darker in color as new varnish slowly develops over them. The first carvings were made around 2,000 years ago, although a few are as recent as the early 20th century.
There has been a lot of speculation as to the meanings of the drawings but in fact no one really knows what they mean or why they are in this place. It is in the middle of nowhere. Was this a stopping-off point for native people? Does it have spiritual or religious significance? Is it simply graffiti from a time long past?