Parowan Gap film to premiere at summer solstice event

The sun sets at Parowan Gap near Parowan, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Nancy Dalton, Cedar City News / St. George News

PAROWAN – A new documentary on the Parowan Gap will be shown as part of the annual summer solstice event Saturday, June 23, where people can experience the solar calendaring system as depicted through petroglyphs at Parowan Gap. Other activities include an interpretive program, solstice sunset observation and barbecue dinner.

Petroglyphs at Parowan Gap, northwest of Parowan, Utah, March 19, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Jim Lillywhite, St. George News

The Parowan Gap, a natural mountain pass, features hundreds of petroglyphs etched upon its rock faces from past Native American cultures, as well as naturally formed rock outcroppings that are aligned with the movement of the earth that cast shadows at different times of the year.

“The largest petroglyph, the Zipper Glyph, can be interpreted as a map of travel or as a solar calendar,” event organizer Nancy Dalton said.

Videographer Alan Neves will premiere his master’s thesis documentary on the Parowan Gap at the event. This was a three-year filming project of video interviews with Native American tribal leaders who tell why the gap plays an important role in their culture, as well as interviews with archaeologists, solar engineers and local historians who explain the scientific and cultural significance. A number of those interviewed will be in attendance and will answer questions from the audience after the showing of the documentary.

The Parowan Gap documentary will be shown at 3 p.m. at the Parowan City Office in the Council Chamber. The event is free. Parowan City Office is located at 35 E. 100 North in Parowan.

A barbecue dinner catered by Hamburger Patty’s will be held from 6:30-7 p.m. at Parowan Gap. Tickets for the dinner are $15 per person. Tickets can be purchased from Parowan City Library, Cedar City-Brian Head Tourism Visitor Center, or online.

The main event of the day is the summer solstice program at 7:30 p.m. at Parowan Gap. Solar engineer Nal Morris will be speaking at this event. At 8:30 p.m., the group will walk 3/4 of a mile along the paved road to the back-up summer solstice cairns to watch the sun set down the center of the gap as depicted on the “Zipper Glyph.”

“Ancient Native Americans who set up the Gap solar calendar system, did not just set up one cairn for each season, but they set up back-up cairns for each cairn,” Dalton said, adding, “that these ancient people knew that there would be times when the front cairns could not be used.”

Due to wildlife inhabiting the normal parking area, vehicle parking will be located on the west side of the gap. The improved parking area will be for handicapped parking and dropping off those who are not able to walk short distances.

The program is free. Those attending are asked to bring their own chairs, drinking water and to wear good walking shoes.

Parowan Gap is located 19.2 miles northwest of Cedar City on state Route 130 or 14 miles west of Parowan following the Gap County Road from 400 North in Parowan.

The annual event is sponsored by the Parowan Heritage Foundation and Cedar City-Brian Head Tourism Bureau.

Event details

  • What: Summer solstice event featuring a new documentary about the Parowan Gap.
  • When: Saturday, June 23. The documentary will be shown at 3 p.m. The rest of the event kicks off at 6:30 with a barbecue dinner.
  • Where: The documentary will be shown at the Parowan City Offices at 35 E. 100 North in Parowan. The summer solstice event will be at the Parowan Gap.
  • Cost: The documentary and summer solstice event is free. The barbecue dinner is $15 per person and tickets are available online.

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