Petroglyph Hunting on the Snake River – #optoutside on Black Friday

I love the movement to #optoutside on Black Friday! My husband took a vacation day, and we intentionally decided to have a quiet Thanksgiving break, with 4 days of staying home, eating good food, and spending time outdoors.

I’m a writer; not just of this blog, and of business related content, but I’m also in the process of writing a novel set here in Idaho.  I love discussing it with Red, who is really into writing his own books right now (and at a much faster pace than me, I might add!)  So we took the opportunity on Black Friday to head out into the glorious sunshine and visit some petroglyphs on the Snake River, about an hour out of town. These petroglyphs, carved into boulders deposited by the Bonneville Flood about 15,000 years ago, feature heavily in my novel, and I love to visit them and soak in the atmosphere there.


Celebration Park is Idaho’s first archaeological park. There were a handful of visitors mid-morning, and it had a good holiday feel, although it wasn’t what I would call busy.  Whenever I mention it to friends who live in the area, most haven’t heard of it. While there is a designated trail of sorts through the petroglyphs, there is nothing to stop people clambering on and over the rocks, or touching them. I think it’s great that this part of Idaho history, so little recognized, has now become accessible, although I’m a little concerned about the long term impact this might have on preserving the stones and the petroglyphs. As far as I am aware, no one knows what these symbols mean, and it would be a shame for these to be lost to the ravages of careless human impact.

We had a blast running around, climbing, jumping and generally doing what we do. I talked to the boys about the effects they might have by touching the rocks with the art on them, and we discussed the importance the symbols might have had for people in the past. As the rocks with petroglyphs aren’t marked in any way, or cordoned off, there were at least a few they accidentally climbed all over before we realized what was there.  I’m sure that happens a lot.

Red and Daddy making their own art.

It was so nice to get outside and burn some energy after a big meal the day before, and talk to the boys about something that I am passionate about. When we go outside with kids it can sometimes feel as if we are doing it all for them, but I think it’s important for them to see that we also want to do it for our own reasons. If we want the kids to understand why nature and being outside is part of daily life, they have to see it as part of an adult’s daily life too, and not just somewhere to play while they are kids.

I loved showing them some history of where we live, and feeling that connection, through nature, to people who lived here before us. There is an amazing grounding feeling touching things you know were touched by hands generations before you; looking up and seeing the same cliffs, the same sun, the same awe-inspiring landscapes.

Photo by Greg Harness

We also visited Map Rock, a nearby Melon Gravel boulder absolutely packed with petroglyphs. No one knows for sure what these mean, but some theorize that the main line running through the boulder represents the Snake River, hence naming it as a map. Any information I could find online suggested there are other petroglyphs scattered on the boulders immediately uphill of it too, so Red and I set off to investigate. He loved climbing up, although coming back down was another matter! I was glad Smalls was safe at the bottom with his dad, so I could help talk Red through what to do. I was really proud of how well he worked through the process of the panic, taking calming breaths and assessing the situation, and then using all his body to feel around on the rocks and work his way back down. This is the kind of all-encompassing mindful work that makes me feel connected to nature when I bike or climb or even ski.  It’s great to watch the kids experience it too.


It would have been so easy to take a quick trip to the stores and pick up some holiday bargains, or just hang out at home and watch TV on Black Friday. Planning a short day trip allowed us to experience new things, and run around for a while, making the most of the good weather while we still have it! I plan to #optoutside every Black Friday from now on!  What did you do on Black Friday – did you make it outdoors? I’d love to hear about it, leave me a comment!


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