Legend Rock, Thermopolis, Wyoming

See Intriguing Petroglyphs at Legend Rock in Wyoming

Legend Rock located west of Thermopolis, WY provides visitors with a unique opportunity to view more than 300 petroglyphs. The petroglyphs were created over thousands of years at the base of very tall cliffs, and several different cultures are responsible for their creation. Hopi, Zuni and Peruvian petroglyph styles have all been identified at Legend Rock.

The prehistoric rock art you will view at Legend Rock is as mysterious as it is beautiful. Nobody is quite sure exactly when the petroglyphs were created, or why, although archaeologists are presently devising better ways to date and learn about rock art. Even among Indian elders, there is no clear consensus about why the petroglyphs at Legend Rock were painted.

American Indian Elders have been consulted regarding the petroglyphs at Legend Rock, and most do agree they are a form of writing. The writing can be interpreted, the Elders claim, but they interpret them in different ways. One thing all of the Elders tend to agree on is the sacred nature of the petroglyphs at Legend Rock.

Considering how many other demands related to survival must have characterized the lives of the members of these ancient cultures, the rock art almost certainly had great meaning. It’s hard to imagine they were created simply as a means of decoration or for entertainment purposes.

Those who see and study the rock art at Legend Rock can learn a great deal about the cultures who created the images. It is possible to discern what animals were hunted, and what weapons were developed and used at the time. Even details about clothing and hairstyles can be gleaned from studying these petroglyphs.

Animals as well as humans are depicted in the rock art at Legend Rock. One image you will see is a bird that has been identified stylistically as a “Ghost Dance” bird. This is a popular image in rock art of Wyoming. However, the Ghost Dance era was from 1890 to 1892, and scientists now believe the bird petroglyph dates to a much earlier period.

Another interesting petroglyph you will see at Legend Rock is a Rabbit. This rabbit is stylistically similar to images painted on Mimbres Mortuary ceramic items that date from 900 to 100 A.D. The Mimbres culture was centered in New Mexico. There are no other Mimbres-style rabbits depicted on rock art in the state of Wyoming.

Legend Rock is administered by Hot Springs State Park, and you will need to pick up a key and permit from the State Bath House at the State Park to access the site. In order to preserve the petroglyphs and enable further research at Legend Rock, it is very important that visitors do not touch the paintings, or move any rocks or artifacts at the site. Hotel accommodations are available on HotelsCombined.com in Thermopolis.


  1. Sylvia Garofalo says:

    Thank you so much for preserving this historic site. I have been there about 3 times. The first time was before you had to secure the area from people who were trying to chip out pieces of the “drawings” and take them. What a shame. I got many good photos the first and second times we went. We live in Colorado and have friends in Thermopolis, WY.

    I am trying to research what some of the figures mean. Any suggestions? Thank you. Sylvia Garofalo