PAROWAN — Saturday will mark 20 years of hosting “Summer Solstice Sunset” programs at Parowan Gap. Activities throughout the day will celebrate the occasion, including archaeology workshops and a barbecue dinner before the evening sunset program.
In 1996, volunteers from Parowan museums and the visitor center met out at the Parowan Gap for the purpose of learning more about the calendar system.
“A natural opening in the mountain range, the Parowan Gap holds a vast amount of petroglyphs that can be interpreted in different ways depending on which Native American culture or scientific interpretation you use,” Nancy Dalton, Parowan Heritage Foundation secretary, said.
Unfortunately, volunteers that first year missed the main event.
“After a potluck dinner, Nal Morris and Garth Norman presented their findings,” Dalton said. “Because their presentation went long, we missed the sun setting in the dip on the mountain horizon.”
However, the volunteers had such a good time, they decided to host it as an annual event for the public.
The petroglyphs — or rock writing — along with various rock outcroppings and cairns provide a fascinating look back in history of how ancient cultures survived and traveled and what they believed in. While the solstice event provides an opportunity for attendees to see the sun set in the actual “gap,” visitors are drawn to the Parowan Gap throughout the year.
Schedule of events:
- 10 a.m. to noon | Hands-on workshop
- Archaeologist Garth Norman, who has done archaeology work at Parowan Gap, will take workshop attendees on a hiking tour of the sites where he did his work and explain the archaeological process and his findings.
- Workshop attendees are encouraged to dress for hot weather, including hats, sunscreen and good hiking shoes. Cost is $25 per person. Registration includes bottled water and snacks. Meet at Parowan Gap parking lot. Preregister by calling Nancy Dalton at 435-463-3735, or purchase workshop tickets at the Parowan Library or Cedar City-Brian Head Visitor Center.
- 3-4 p.m. | Parowan Gap research presentation
- Archaeologist Garth Norman will present a slide show of his research at the Parowan Library. This event is free to the public.
- 6-7 p.m. | Barbecue dinner
- A barbecue dinner will be held at the Parowan Gap. Dinner is $15 per person. Tickets for the dinner should be purchased in advance at the Parowan Library or the Cedar City-Brian Head Visitor Center or by calling Nancy Dalton at 435-463-3735.
- 7:30 p.m. | Summer Solstice Sunset program
- A Summer Solstice Sunset program featuring guest speakers will be held at the Parowan Gap site. After the program the group will walk two-tenths of a mile to the sunset observation cairns and watch the sun set down the middle of the Gap as depicted on the “Zipper” petroglyph at the Gap.
- Program attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and wear walking shoes. This event is free to the public.
Parowan Gap T-shirts, books written by Norman and Morris and other items — including bottled water — will be available for purchase.
The annual event is hosted by the Parowan Heritage Foundation and Cedar City-Brian Head Tourism Bureau through an agreement and special event use permit from the Bureau of Land Management. For more information on the event, contact Nancy Dalton at 435-463-3735.
- The Parowan Library is located at 16 S. Main St., Parowan, Utah
- The Cedar City-Brian Head Visitor Center is located at 581 N. Main St., Cedar City, Utah
- Find directions to the Parowan Gap Rock Art site here