Early Peoples

Fremont pictograph; series of rust red triangles resembling a person on sand colored rock.
Fremont pictograph. Remember, if you come across any evidence of early peoples in American Fork Canyon-don't touch, deface or remove! Take a picture and/or note the location and share with a ranger. New discoveries help paint a bigger picture of our understanding of early peoples.


Tribal people have an ancient and ongoing relationship with the land, taking only what is needed and using all that is taken.

For several thousand years, the first people of the area traveled throughout American Fork Canyon and all of Utah. These people were the first of several groups drawn to the area by the fresh waters of Utah Lake. The Paleo-Indian people (12,000 BC) hunted large animals, and likely stayed near the shores of Utah Lake in the cool climate. As the climate warmed, Archaic people (~10,000 BC-AD 1) maintained a lifestyle of hunting and gathering. Excavations in other caves in American Fork Canyon show that hunters used some caves as a base camp for hunting in the canyon.

Water flowing from the mountains created a valley rich in resources. Although abundant fish, game, and native plants provided everything tribal people needed, they began farming about 1600 years ago – planting corn, beans, and squash where homes and businesses stand today. The Fremont people built small farming villages across the valley where they grew corn, squash, and beans. Excavations in American Fork Cave have found ceramics, cordage, ground stone, and corn kernels associated with the Fremont people.

As the climate cooled again around 1300 AD the Fremont people abandoned their farming way of life. Those remaining returned to hunting and gathering, and are possibly the ancestors of the those that came next. Utes, Paiutes, Shoshone, and other groups inhabited the valley, using American Fork Canyon to hunt big game and gather various plants for food . Many of their descendants live throughout Utah today.

Last updated: May 4, 2020

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2038 W. Alpine Loop Road
American Fork, UT 84003



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