Arch Canyon and Cowboy Rock

[Image: rock arch in desert]

Arch Canyon

Along the border of Idaho and Nevada is a very remote area between the canyons of the Bruneau and Jarbidge rivers. It’s basically a large peninsula called the Diamond A Desert.

Wild horses used to roam here in great numbers and it’s been used as a grazing area for cattle since the late 1800s. On the northern edge of the Diamond A is a remote chasm called Arch Canyon because of a unique natural stone arch found there.

This narrow u-shaped canyon was used as a natural corral and a camping spot for cowboys who were out here miles from their main ranches. Below the rock arch is a large stone where many cowboys have scratched their initials or spent time etching out more elaborate drawings.

[Image: people looking at large rock with initials carved into it]

Cowboy Rock

"As you are carefully picking your way down the trail and you round the bend . . . there all of a sudden is this amazing rock formation. And it feels a little like you walk back in time . . . particularly when you get to the rock — I think they’ve dubbed it The Cowboy Rock — and you see all of the carvings. And you imagine what life might have been like when you are down here watching a herd of cattle or sheep or whatever it might have been they were tending to and you can picture them being a little bored and saying, hey, I think I’m going to leave a little legacy here." --Heather Tiel, BLM Jarbidge District

Well before the cowboys began stopping at this spot, Native Americans also used the area as a shelter and resting place. They too left their marks on the rocks while spending time here. Although not as easy to see as the cowboys drawings, their faint pictographs can be seen on the canyon walls near the arch.

"I like the beauty of the place. I like the fact that it has an ancient history and a recent history, and with some exceptions most people seem to really enjoy being here and have tried to leave it as they found it." --Jeff Ross, BLM archaeologist

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