McConkie Ranch |

Vernal

Hiking McConkie Ranch - Vernal Hiking McConkie Ranch

Vernal

Overview

RATING: Easy Hike
MAPS: DRY FORK, UT

Tue

Mostly sunny, with a high near 69. South wind 5 to 20 mph.

69 | 44

Wed

Sunny, with a high near 70.

70 | 45

Thu

A slight chance of rain showers before noon, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 64.

64 | 45

Fri

A chance of rain showers before noon, then showers and thunderstorms likely. Partly sunny, with a high near 59.

59 | 40

Sat

Showers and thunderstorms likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 54.

54 | 41

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SEASON: Spring, Summer, Fall
GEAR: Standard Hiking Gear
WATER: None, bring all you need.

Tue

Mostly sunny, with a high near 69. South wind 5 to 20 mph.

69 | 44

Wed

Sunny, with a high near 70.

70 | 45

Thu

A slight chance of rain showers before noon, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 64.

64 | 45

Fri

A chance of rain showers before noon, then showers and thunderstorms likely. Partly sunny, with a high near 59.

59 | 40

Sat

Showers and thunderstorms likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 54.

54 | 41

View Full Weather Details
Along the way to the Three Kings Panel

Along the way to the Three Kings Panel

The McConkie Ranch, located near Vernal, Utah, holds a rich history. Originally settled in the late 1800s by pioneer families, it became a hub for agricultural activities in the region. The McConkie Ranch gained international fame and recognition in 1985 when a stunning rock art panel known as the "Three Kings Panel" was published in a magazine.

The Three Kings Panel, featured in National Geographic, is a remarkable collection of ancient petroglyphs that provide a unique window into the lives and beliefs of the indigenous people who once inhabited the region. The site has been a subject of fascination for archaeologists, historians, and art enthusiasts, offering insights into the cultural and spiritual practices of the Native American tribes who once roamed the area. If you enjoy rock art, the McConkie ranch needs to be on your bucket list. The Three Kings Panel is what exposed the McConkie Ranch to the world, but there are many other panels to visit that to my eye were equally interesting. I was surprised at the quality and quantity of rock art.

Visit Notes: The hikes can be hot in the heat of summer, but are very reasonable in the early morning or evening.

On our visit, I had assumed we would do the two short hikes and be done in a couple of hours. We ended up spending a couple of hours visiting the Three Kings Hike, and returning the next morning to visit the Main Panel Trail.

The Three Kings Panel proper will require a fairly good zoom lens to photograph very well, in my opinion.
Private Property: These hikes are on private property. As of 2023, there is a $5 per vehicle fee to park and use the trails. This seems like quite a bargain! Be sure to visit respectfully; don't touch rock art, clean up any liter you find, keep pets leashed, stay on the trails, and generally be a good guest, so it stays open for others to enjoy.
Along the loop path to the Three Kings Panel

Along the loop path to the Three Kings Panel

Getting There

From Main Street in downtown Vernal, head north on 500 West. Follow this for about 3.5 miles. It curves west after a half dozen blocks and becomes 500 North. At 3.5 miles from Main Street, turn right (north) onto 3500 West. Follow this for 6.4 miles to the signed McConkie Ranch on the right. Follow the side road about a half a mile to a signed large parking area and the trailhead.

Cliffs along the McConkie Ranch.

Cliffs along the McConkie Ranch.

Route

Rock Art and Historic Site Etiquette
Rock art and historic sites are fragile, non-renewable cultural resources that, once damaged, can never be replaced. To ensure they are protected, please:
  • Avoid Touching the Petroglyphs: Look and observe, BUT DO NOT TOUCH!
  • Stay on the Trails: Stay on the most used trails when visiting sites, and don't create new trails or trample vegetation.
  • Photography and Sketching is Allowed: Do not introduce any foreign substance to enhance the carved and pecked images for photographic or drawing purposes. Altering, defacing, or damaging the petroglyphs is against the law -- even if the damage is unintentional.
  • Pets: Keep pets on a leash and clean up after them.
  • Artifacts: If you happen to come across sherds (broken pottery) or lithics (flakes of stone tools), leave them where you see them. Once they are moved or removed, a piece of the past is forever lost.

There are two main trails at McConkie Ranch. The Three Kings Trail and the Main Panel Trail.

The Main Panel (a little less than a mile round-trip)
The Main Panel leaves the parking area and heads north across a field and up to the cliff band north of the parking lot. This Main Panel is sometimes referred to as the Headhunter Panel. It stretches along a fairly long part of the cliff. The trail is well-marked and signed. Please stay on it!

Three Kings Trail (about 1.5 miles round-trip)
The Three Kings Trail leaves the parking area south, across fields and around a pond. It is well-marked and easy to follow. Be sure to leave gates in the state you found them.

About 1/2 mile from the trailhead is a junction. Go left here for the loop side trail that goes up and along the cliff face, visiting many excellent panels along the way. The side trail drops back down to the main tail after visiting the many panels and continues on to its end at a view of the Three Kings Panel in a short distance.


Maps

Main Panel / 0.82 miles / Elevation Range 6,171 - 6,408 ft.
Three Kings Panel / 1.47 miles / Elevation Range 6,104 - 6,170 ft.
Printable Maps:
Trailhead

12T 615288mE 4489196mN

N40° 32' 44" W109° 38' 19"

Cliff Panels

12T 615811mE 4488835mN

N40° 32' 32" W109° 37' 57"

Loop Jct

12T 615771mE 4488823mN

N40° 32' 31" W109° 37' 58"

Junction

12T 615319mE 4489468mN

N40° 32' 53" W109° 38' 17"

3 Kings View

12T 616057mE 4488559mN

N40° 32' 23" W109° 37' 46"

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