Tread Lightly

Tread Lightly

Respect and Protect: How You Can Help Conserve Rock Art and Petroglyphs

Utah is one of the most archaeologically and paleontologically-rich places in the United States. Since the early 20th century, vandalism and looting of these sacred lands has risen consistently. In order to educate the public about the consequences of vandalism, we’ve partnered with Utah’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to develop and implement a public awareness campaign called “Respect and Protect” to encourage the public to protect priceless cultural and natural heritage.


petroglyph 1
Source: National Park Service

Below are three ways you can respect and protect these important sites so future generations can appreciate them, too.

1. Stay on the trail.

When visiting these ancient archeological sites, remember to stay on marked trails. Doing this not only prevents the widening and destruction of trails, but also allows petroglyphs and rock art to be seen at a safe distance; thus, conserving them for years to come.

petroglyph 2
Source: Jay Robinson, National Park Service

2. Take photos, not artifacts.

For many people, these sites provoke a sense of wonder and amazement. As a consequence, some visitors choose to take home artifacts as a trophy or souvenir. Most of these artifacts hold spiritual or cultural significance to the native people or tribes. Taking such objects is not only destructive to the sites but disrespectful to the native people. So, take photos to remember these sites, not pieces of artifacts.


petroglyph 3
Source: Selvaraj PK

3.Look–don’t touch.

Carved into rocks, petroglyphs are a form of cultural expression from ancient times. In most museums, glass is installed to protect paintings from being touched. Petroglyphs don’t have this advantage. As with modern works of art, it’s advisable for admirers not to touch. Natural oils from our skin can stain or damage these petroglyphs. Lastly, it is illegal to scratch, add on, or rub markings on these sites. Doing so is an easy way to get a hefty ticket.

petroglyph 4
Source: Russ Bodnar, National Park Service

At Tread Lightly!, our goal is to educate the public and protect the environment we live in. We strongly believe that respecting our environment is the best way to protect it for future generations to enjoy. Find out more about our incredible Respect and Protect campaign, which aims to protect rock art, petroglyphs, paleontological sites, ruins, and archaeological treasures.

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