The eastern slopes of Comb Ridge once provided homes for
many Anasazi and their predecessors. The entire area from the San Juan
River to the foothills of the Abajo Mountains was inhabited from the
early hunter gatherers to the cliff dwelling Anasazi of the Pueblo III
period. These first residents left behind many cultural treasures
ranging from large housing units to small lithic scatters. There are
three distinct sections of Butler Wash which runs all along the length
of Comb Ridge. Lower Butler Wash is the section between Utah Hwy 163
and the San Juan
The best approach route to Wolfman Panel cuts behind this
leads down a sloped ramp to the canyon floor. (click photo to enlarge)
River while Upper Butler Wash
is the area north of Utah Hwy 95. Between these two highways are 21
miles of dirt road ? San Juan County Road 230. All along this road you
can find access into and onto the fantastically eroded slopes of Comb
Ridge where you will find many different cultural treasures.
The Wolfman Panel is a well preserved and interesting
rock art panel in the southern section of the main Butler Wash.
Unfortunately, the panel has been damaged by some idiot who defaced the
artwork by shooting the pictographs with a rifle but it is still a
great site to visit. One nice aspect of the Wolfman Panel is the easy
access. The parking area is only a mile of good road from the highway
and the hike to the panel is well under a half mile.
The Wolfman Panel has a number of excellent pictographs,
this impressive stretch of rock art which has been scarred by bullets.
(click photo to enlarge)
easiest way to access the Wolfman Panel is to get on to the Butler Wash
Road (SJ 230) from Utah 163 about 4 miles west of Bluff, UT. At
about mile marker 40.5 the Butler Wash Road takes off to the north. It
is usually in good shape and it is often possible to take a passenger
car to the parking area which is just about a mile from the highway. It
is very easy to find the access which is right at the fence line which
crosses the road. You will need to head west along the fence line to
access the ruin. You can park right by the county road or you can drive
along the old 4wd track that is quite obvious. Either way, it is only a
couple of hundred yards until the sandy road turns into slickrock.You
can also take the Butler Wash Road (SJ230) from the north. If you come
this way, it is almost exactly 20 miles from UT 95.
When you hit the slickrock it can be difficult to find
the correct path but if you look carefully, you can follow the old road
track across the slickrock to the cliff edge. Following the faint
four-wheel-drive pathway takes you to the edge of a cliff side
overlooking Butler Wash. As opposed to some of the areas in the upper
wash, this is a true cliff and you are standing up high on the rock
looking over a sheer drop down into Butler Wash. Look for a cairn that
will show you where to drop off the cliff edge. There are a few ways to
get down to the bottom but the best way, if you can find it, is to take
the slickrock ramp that leads downward to the south. This ramp is
hidden from above by a large boulder but if you get around it the way
The Wolfman Pictograph.. (click photo to enlarge)
If you don?t find the ramp you can find
another way to work down the hillside until you get to the Butler Wash
Bottom. From here head downstream and the sweeping wall with the
Wolfman Panel is quite obvious. The rock art is easy to find and very
impressive. These pictographs were made by the Basketmakers who created
much of the finest rock art in Anasazi country. The Wolfman image which
gives the panel its name is a long limbed big handed humanoid.
Additional figures include a crane or similar bird, a beautiful
representation of a basket, a yucca plant, a mask, a humanoid with a
headdress and many other figures. Unfortunately, as already mentioned,
the site has been damaged by bullets.
After exploring the Wolfman site
you can return to your car or you can spend some time exploring in
Butler Wash. There are ruins in the area so look around and see what
you can find.
The hike to the Wolfman
Panel is short, easy and interesting. It makes a great short hike that
gives a good glimpse of the nature of this area.