Dean M. Chriss
Monarch's Cave, Handprints, San Juan County, Utah
(Click image to enlarge)
In 1892 the Illustrated America Exploring Expedition made its way into a desert canyon in a remote part of what would later become the state of Utah. At the head of the canyon they discovered the ruins of a beautiful cliff dwelling tucked into a high alcove above a shaded pool of water. They named the alcove "Monarch's Cave". Little is known of the people who once inhabited this place but they left many clues behind, including the handprints shown in the image above. The handprints are low on the alcove wall and they are quite small, like those of a child.
The ancient ruins and rock art present here and in other areas is irreplaceable, priceless, and fragile. The act of entering a ruin can deteriorate it more than would a hundred of years of sitting undisturbed. Touching rock art, even lightly and only once, causes eventual staining from oils that are present in human skin. It can also cause flaking of the ancient paint. Small things have huge impacts over time that spans thousands of years. If you are fortunate enough to visit one of these places, please be extremely careful to leave it exactly as you found it.