Fremont Indian State Park and Museum
Imagine project managing a major highway construction effort. Part way through the rugged Clear Creek Canyon, your team uncovers what turns out to the be largest known prehistoric Fremont Village site — more than 100 structures filled with countless artifacts. The extensive excavation from that highway discovery is preserved in nearby Fremont Indian State Park. Exploration in Utah often ends in discovery — maybe not of this magnitude, but certainly of smaller, no-less inspirational rewards: unexpected dinosaur tracks in the slickrock, petroglyphs on the canyon walls, waterfalls in the desert and iconic landforms found nowhere else. Learn more about Fremont, then explore more of Central Utah's Native American heritage sites below.
If you find yourself driving on the scenic Interstate 70 in southwest Utah — say, from Zion National Park to Moab, or from Las Vegas to Capitol Reef National Park — don’t miss out on the opportunity to make a stop at the Fremont Indian State Park and Museum, just south of Richfield. Is it a great place to stretch your legs while surrounded by beautiful scenery or to spend a night in a campground midway through a long drive. It’s also a chance to learn about the area’s ancient peoples — to orient yourself to the mysteries carved and painted on the rocks, then take your knowledge out into the field. Making a stop here is well worth it.
The Fremont people were the Native Americans that lived in what is now central Utah from about 400 to 1350 AD. Remains of their culture, including pictographs, petroglyphs, and the pithouses in which they lived, are found across the state from the San Rafael Swell to Capitol Reef to Zion. The artifacts of a sprawling village, the largest Fremont village ever discovered, were unearthed during the construction of Interstate 70 in 1983. Sad to say, over half of that village was removed for the highway in 1984. What’s left, however, can be seen from Fremont Indian State Park Museum, which displays and interprets artifacts for its visitors.
From the artifacts in the museum, we learn that the Fremont culture was an advanced society of people who cultivated crops like corn, squash, and beans, and they constructed comfortable homes that could withstand Utah’s harsh environment. The Fremont people expressed themselves through art and play. The museum displays include everything from agricultural and hunting tools, pottery and smoking pipes, and a model of a Fremont woman that was made based on her skeletal remains. There is also a fun kids area with a play pithouse and microscope for looking at a selection of artifacts.
And then there are the Fremont relics to see in the rest of the park. First, check out the real pithouse and granary just beyond the museum parking lot. Then grab the interpretive trail guides from the visitor center that will direct you to a few of the park’s points of interest along the park road, such as Parade of Rock Art, Cave of a Hundred Hands, or Arch of Art. You can also head out to see well-preserved Fremont artwork that was painted and carved into the surrounding rock walls. In addition, there are a couple of points of interest not related to the Fremont people, like the Jedediah Smith interpretive site and a cabin built by an early Mormon pioneer.
Hiking and Recreation
If you’re in the mood for a walk, take the roughly 5-mile Centennial Trail, which starts from the museum and parallels the park road. It will lead you by many examples of Fremont rock art and can be cut in half at a cutoff point. Check at the visitor center for trail conditions. To get to some good views, take the 0.5-mile climb up to Five Finger Ridge, the 1-mile hike to Canyon Overlook, or the 2-mile hike to the Hidden Secrets site.
The renowned Paiute ATV Trail runs through Fremont Indian State Park. The trail complex is one of the largest and most impressive ATV trails in the world, and includes opportunities to escape into the forest or explore towns and heritage sites.
Castle Rock Campground
The park’s Castle Rock Campground is a relatively unknown gem. Surrounded by cottonwood, juniper and pinion trees, with a creek running through the campground, the campsites are scenic and secluded. Castle Rock is a primitive campground, with 31 sites. It’s a great place to rest your head before the next day’s adventures.
GPS Coordinates: 38.577548, -112.334578
Explore Central Utah's Native Heritage
Explore the mysterious rock art of a prehistory passage frequently traveled by the ancient Fremont Cultures and the ancestors of the Southern Paiute and Hopi People.
Petroglyphs of Capitol Reef
Indigenous people lived among Capitol Reef's formations between 600-1300 A.D., and their markings tell the mysterious stories of their lives.
Fremont Indian State Park and Museum
3820 West Clear Creek Canyon Road
Sevier, UT 84766