HAPPENINGS - February 2001
by Janet Lowe
Raven Rock Art Tours:
One Man's Dream Come True!
Hidden deep in the rocky canyons around Moab is ancient and mysterious
Native American rock art. These inscriptions may be pecked (petroglyphs)
or painted (pictographs) on the wall and may be as old as 9000 years.
Craig Barney, owner of Raven Rock Art Tours can take you there.
Craig and his wife, Tammy, moved to Moab from Vernal, Utah, in
1992. They were born and raised in Spanish Fork, Utah, so can claim
Utah as native land. During his youth, Craig spent a great deal
of time in southern Utah and learned to love the red rock canyons
and all their mysteries. He spent many of those early years as a
cowboy herding cattle, sheep and chasing wild horses in area deserts
and mountains. A career change took him to the oil fields and after
18 years of work in that industry, Craig made the break and moved
to Moab. He and his wife purchased and now manage a mobile home
park. But the love of rock art has always been in his blood, and
he couldnt shake it. At first opportunity, he took a job driving
tours for Lin Ottinger, one Moabs notorious rock hounds and
early tour guides.
I learned a great deal from Lin, says Craig. I
guess he got me started.
In 1998, Craig decided he wanted to move into the world of rock
art full time. His primary goal was to help in the process of educating
people about the value and importance of Native American inscriptions.
What better way, he thought, than to share the rock art with them
and explain its place in Americas culture? He ended up forming
Raven Rock Art Tours and now combines his livelihood with the education
of visitors to the canyonlands area. And all the while, hes
having a ball!
Craig is also President of the Utah Rock Art Research Association,
an agency which holds as its mission the protection, preservation
and research of rock art. Among other things, they work to
find grant money to restore sites that have been vandalized and
to educate people throughout Utah about the ancient rock art found
in the Moab area and throughout the state.
For me, Raven Rock Art Tours is a dream come true, says
Craig. I get to make a business out of doing what I love.
Its also exciting to share his love of rock art with his guests.
I enjoy watching people get excited about what theyre
seeing. I can see a change come over them when they view it and
I know Ive been able to make a difference in their perspective
on rock art.
While he has standard sites he visits and is limited by
area land management agencies on what he can share with the general
public Craig does his best to customize his tours.
I spend some time talking to the people before we decide
where were going to go. I like to find out how much they already
know about rock art and how they feel about it. You can learn a
lot about people just by asking a few questions and listening to
them, he explains.
He also takes the time to find out where his guests are in their
spiritual journey because the spiritual interpretations of rock
art and the telling of Native American legends is part of what he
shares on one of his tours. Once Craig gets started talking about
these legends and canyon country rock art, guests of Raven Tours
are in for a treat. He weaves Hopi and Navajo creation stories into
his narrative as he suggests possible explanations of the inscriptions.
He emphasizes that we can never really know with certainty what
the rock art means or what its significance was to the makers, but
we can definitely enjoy the attempt to understand and the plunge
into the deep body of knoweldge available trhough scientific and
Theres way more we dont know than we do know.
I just want people to understand that once its gone, its
gone and theres no way to recover the images or to further
our knowledge of these fascinating cultures. We should protect it
at all costs, says Craig.
Craig likes to keep his tour size small, preferring an average
of six people. He loves to find folks traveling together who share
the same interest in Native American culture and rock art. Visits
to area ruins are also part of his guided tours and on every step
of the journey, Craig is reminding people to walk gently in the
footsteps of those who came before.
Craig takes his guests to rock art sites throughout southeastern
Utah including areas in the Book Cliffs, San Rafael Swell, Cedar
Mesa, Indian Creek, and, of course, the famous sites along Moabs
roadways. He also offers customized fossil and rockhound tours,
scenic tours and day hikes. Raven Rock Art Tours specializes in
customized expeditions, so folks wanting a personal kind of adventure
are in good hands with Craig. As his brochure says, we will
make every effort to adapt the trip to your ability, sense of adventure
and hearts desire. Well-said, Mr. Barney, a man who
has found his own hearts desire in the canyon country of Moab.
For more information about Raven Rock Art Tours, call 1-888-799-5293
or 1-435-259-4510. Email can be sent to email@example.com. Information
can also be found at www.moab.net/raventours.
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