Join Adam Zurn and kayakLanCo this summer for a fantastic adventure on one of the oldest rivers in the world to visit the enigmatic petroglyphs of Safe Harbor. This aquatic two-mile expedition takes you out onto the ancient Susquehanna with time spent on Little Indian Rock and Big Indian Rock to view and photograph the millennium-old rock art.
Tour dates for the 2023 season are:
- Tuesday, June 27, from 8 to 11 am
- Tuesday, July 18, from 5 to 8 pm
- Tuesday, Aug 7, from 8 to 11 am
- Monday, Aug 8, from 8 to 11 am
- Thursday, Aug 10, from 5 to 8 pm
Do not wait to register! Each excursion is limited to only eight tour members to ensure a personal experience at these magical locations. New this season is the option to bring your own kayak.
What Makes This Adventure So Special?
The 1,000-year-old petroglyphs of Little Indian Rock and Big Indian Rock are one of Pennsylvania’s most significant archaeological sites. These two boulders represent one of the two largest remaining concentrations of rock art in the northeast United States (the other being the Machias Bay Petroglyphs along the northeast coast of Maine). Furthermore, Little Indian Rock has the best panels of petroglyphs east of the Mississippi. They are accessible only by water and depict animal tracks, human figures, and mystical thunderbirds.
According to Kurt W. Carr, in his 2001 preface for the Petroglyphs in the Susquehanna River near Safe Harbor, these petroglyphs are “our only direct window into the minds of the prehistoric inhabitants of the region.” Donald Cadzow, in his landmark book on the Lower Susquehanna petroglyphs entitled Petroglyphs (Rock Carvings) in the Susquehanna River near Safe Harbor, Pennsylvania, says, “They are not idle scrawls made to gratify a passing whim. In their day, many of them played an important part in the social organization of the tribes.”
Current archaeologists believe, according to an exhibit at the Pennsylvania State Museum, “that these carvings may be directional markers for the location of nearby resources, as well religious and mythical symbols. We now know that they are not a form of prehistoric graffiti.” Still not convinced? Here are two examples that should put to rest any doubts you may have.
According to Paul Nevin, director of the Zimmerman Center for Heritage, these “serpent” sharped carvings “are aligned to the place on the horizon where the Sun either rises or sets on the first day of each of the seasons.” Nevin continues by saying, “The question mark serpent emerges from the Winter solstice sunrise and journeys towards the Summer solstice sunset. And the paired serpents emerge from the Spring and Fall equinox sunrise.”
What To Expect
Some kayaking experience is recommended, along with the stamina to paddle a few miles on slow-moving water. Tour members will receive assistance getting in and out of their kayaks at both Indian Rocks but should know that getting in and out at these islands will be the most physically challenging part of the adventure. What this process lacks in gracefulness will be made up in good humor. 😜
Here are several photos from a previous excursion to see the petroglyphs.
What Is Included
KayakLanco provides all necessary equipment (sit-in kayak, paddle, life vest), and a knowledgeable tour guide for $115. Have your own kayak and equipment? Then join us for $85. Although unlikely, shuttle service is included if needed. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Susquehanna National Heritage Area.
Tours are limited to eight tour members. No exceptions. Email email@example.com to be put on a waiting list. Please include your name, desired tour date(s), and best contact phone number.
What Should I Bring?
It is best to bring only what you really need in the kayak because there is always the chance that it can be lost in the river. Therefore, leaving any valuables, including jewelry, wallets, and cameras that are not waterproof, in your vehicle is a good idea. That being said, if you have any medications you might need, they should be brought with you. Water, extra layers, and sunscreen are also a good idea, depending on the weather conditions. Avoid wearing flip-flops. Sandals with straps, water socks, or old sneakers are best. Lastly, hats and sunglasses are good things to bring along on sunny days.
Indigenous people consider these petroglyph sites sacred. As a sign of respect, participants will be asked to remove any footwear while walking on the Little and Big Indian Rock.
I will have Uncharted Lancaster swag, such as stickers, magnets, lapel pins, 3″ patches, and replica arrowheads, for participants to choose from as a souvenir.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have specific questions.