Utah’s augur of spring: the ‘Overseer’ at Parowan Gap

The "Overseer" at Parowan Gap, Utah | Photo courtesy of Cedar City / Brian Head Tourism Bureau, St. George News
The "Overseer" at Parowan Gap, Utah | Photo courtesy of Cedar City / Brian Head Tourism Bureau, St. George News

PAROWAN – In Pennsylvania a ground hog named Punxsutawney Phil determines a forecast for six more weeks of winter, while in southern Utah, we have something a

little more accurate – a rock. Rather, a rock formation that distinctly looks like a face with a slit for a mouth. Each year a rock formation commonly referred to as the “Overseer” appears to spit out and then, later in the year, swallow the summer sun.

Saturday, March 3, at 7:30 a.m., visitors to Parowan Gap can observe the morning sun coming out of the Overseer’s mouth.  To the ancient American Indian civilizations that occupied the Parowan Gap this was a signal that spring is coming.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Parowan Gap, a natural mountain pass 12 miles northwest of Parowan, features hundreds of petroglyphs dating back to between 2500-3000 B.C. and a number of rock outcroppings that cast shadows and other archeo-astronomical phenomena.

The public is invited to attend an interpretive observation starting at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday.  “From inside the narrow gap, we’ll wait and wait until the Overseer suddenly spits the sun out of his mouth,” said Nancy Dalton, who has worked with an archaeologist and solar engineer in documenting the various solar and lunar events for the past 20 years.

Those coming to the event are strongly encouraged to dress as warm as possible, as the temperatures at the Gap at this time of the year are bitter cold, especially if the wind is blowing.

For lodging and visitor information, visit www.ScenicSouthernUtah.com. This public interpretation event is hosted by the Parowan Heritage Foundation, Bureau of Land Management, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, and Cedar City-Brian Head Tourism Bureau.  For more information contact Dalton at 435.463.3735.


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