Daytrip – Valley of Fire State Park

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Today Blake Smith and I were joined by six rock-hounds from the Henderson Senior Facility for a hike to Valley of Fire’s “Fire Wave”. Because I have hiked this trail on three previous occasions, I tried to mix it up a little by returning via the Kaolin Wash. The majority of the pictures that I took on today’s hike were captured on our hike along the wash, back to the main road. Click this link to view them ... Valley of Fire (Fire Wave & Kaolin Wash. If you want to view even more pictures of this area taken on previous hikes, I also updated my previous Fire Wave and Gibraltar Rock post … Valley of Fire (Fire Wave & Gibraltar Rock) - 01/03/2013 Trip Notes. I took the picture to the left at 6:00 am as I was heading out from my apartment on the morning of this hike.


Daytrip – Crystal Wash Rock Art – Entrance Site

EFP2-P1100986On 04/09/2015 I traveled with the rock-hounds from the Henderson Senior Center to the Crystal Wash Rock Art Site past Alamo Nevada, about 110 miles north of Las Vegas. Even though the driving distance made for a long day, It was a beautiful sunny day and made for a wonderful hike. Of the seven petroglyph sites in this general area, this was actually the only one that I had yet to visit. This particular rock art site is actually divided into two areas; the Crystal Wash Entrance Site and the Crystal Wash Main Site. The following link will take you to the page with pictures and information on today’s hike … Crystal Wash Rock Art - Entrance Site. Click her for pictures and information on my previous visit to the Crystal Wash Main Site … Crystal Wash Rock Art - Main Site.

Daytrip – Calico Basin

EP2-P1100990-P1100992This past week, my friend Blake Smith and I traveled to Calico Basin on the outskirts of the Red Rock National Conservation Area on the northwest end of the city. Even though we had both been here several times in the past, we decided it would make for a pleasant morning hike. It was a beautiful sunny morning in the mid 70’s filled with fresh air and dozens of beautiful budding cacti and wildflowers. On this visit we drove to the northern end of the area and hike along Ash Creek Spring and the base of its northern mountain ranges. Click here for pictures and information on the area … Ash Creek Spring at Calico Basin.


Daytrip –Snow Canyon State Park - Utah

EP-Panorama Overlook on UT18 2On 04/08/15, Harvey, Bob, Blake and I made a trip to the Snow Canyon State Park in Utah, just north of St. George. This picture was taken from the park overview with the Red Mountains in the background. Even though our hiking was somewhat limited due to the five hour R/T drive from Henderson, we still managed to hike three trails and get a lot of nice pictures. Bob’s GPS indicated that we hiked a total of 3.9 miles. The good news is that there are still a couple of interesting trails left for a future visit. Click here for pictures and information on this unique location … Snow Canyon State Park - Utah.


Daytrip - Death Valley

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On 03/28/2015 I visited Death Valley with a neighbor friend. We decided to do something a little different on this trip and entered it from the southern end 0n highway 178 which goes through Jubilee Pass between Jubilee Mountain (Elv 2,526 feet) and Ashford Peak (Elv 3,543 feet). Once we entered the Death Valley basin, it was only a short distance to the site of the Ashford Mill ruins. Click here for pictures and info on this site … Ashford Mill Ruins - Death Valley. From here we drove north toward the Furnace Creek area. Along the way we took the 10 mile long Artists Drive, making a stop at Artist’s Palette. Click here for pictures and information on this location … Artist's Drive - Death Valley. After leaving this area we went to the Furnace Creek Ranch, had lunch and visited the Borax Museum … Borax Museum-furnace - Furnace Creek Ranch. On our way home we turned onto Furnace Creek Wash Road, off CA Hwy 190, and drove the 14 miles to Dante’s View, a viewpoint terrace at 5,476 feet on the north side of Coffin Peak, along the crest of the Black Mountains, that overlooks all of Death Valley. Click here for pictures and information on this site … Dante's View - Death Valley. As the result of being able to capture some more Death Valley wildflowers, I also updated my page on Death Valley Flora. Check it out here ... Death Valley Flora.


Daytrip – Arrow Canyon

EP-P1100547On 03/26/2015 I made another visit to Arrow Canyon with the rock-hounds from the Henderson Senior Center. Due to last year’s heavy August rainstorm the lower access road to the canyon was washed away adding an additional three R/T miles to an already difficult 2.5 mile hike over water polished stones and rocks. The good news was that those that reached the main petroglyph area were impressed by the large number of panels and glyphs that were scattered about the large monolithic outcrop located just a few hundred feet short of the main canyon. After updating my original page describing this hike [Daytrip - Arrow Canyon Hike], I then added a separate page to focus on the petroglyphs found here … Arrow Canyon Petroglyphs.                                

Rock Art vs Petroglyphs & Pictographs

What is Rock Art? Perhaps a more appropriate title for this category would have been "Rock Art" versus Petroglyphs and Pictographs. The more general term of rock art includes three generally accepted types of ancient image creation: petroglyphs, pictographs, and geoglyphs. 


Daytrip – Crystal Wash Rock Art – Entrance Site

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(Fig. 01)
Site/Area Description: Standing at the metal kiosk, before you lies Crystal Wash. This quite sandy wash is surrounded hundreds of volcanic tuff boulders, the result of a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. Beginning about 450 yard northeast up the wash from the sign-in register, there are six panels that are sporadically placed in and around the wash. Since the rock art found here is easily accessible, this would have been a public site. Their placement suggests a possible travel route, with the rock art providing information along the way. Although the occasional lithic flakes found in the wash indicate that some stone tools were made here, along with the fact that there are a couple of boulders that may have provided shelter for short term stays, there is also nothing to suggest this was a habitation site. There is however, evidence in the rocks above the wash at the Crystal Wash Main Rock Art Site located north of this location, that ancient people stayed in the area for long periods of time. The size of the main site is large enough to have accommodated a village of several small families, most probably living there during the winter months. Archaeological findings consisting of ceramic sherds, projectile points, four hearths, several cupules and some cobblestone alignments have been found on the site. Receiving water from the snow melt off from the surrounding hills, coupled with its large boulders, it offered suitable protection against the wind, making it climatically more desirable than the lower valleys which were colder during the winter months. Click the following link for pictures and description of the main site … Crystal Wash Rock Art - Main Site.
Rock Art Description:  The dominant rock art found at Crystal Wash are Petroglyphs that are etched onto rock faces by pecking, abrading, scratching, or a combination or these techniques. There is one example of pictographs (painted rock art) and one example of cupules (pit and groove rock art) at markers #5 & #6. Note: Cupules are thought to be the oldest form of rock art, first appearing in parts of the Great Basin 7000 years ago. The predominant style of rock art found at the Crystal Wash is classified at the Great Basin Pecked Style which includes the substyles of Great Basin Representational, Great Basin Curvilinear Abstract, and Great Basin Rectilinear Abstract.
Image 1-image 2-3
(Fig. 02)
Directions: From Las Vegas, drive north on I-15 to US Highway 93. After exiting onto Highway 93, drive north past Alamo and Ash Springs to the intersection of Highways 93 and 318. From the intersection of Highways 93 and 318 continue on Highway 93 for 3.16 miles to an obscure dirt road on the left. NOTE: This unmarked road is very difficult to spot. Turn left onto the dirt road and drive northwest for a few hundred to a man-gate in the fence that parallels the highway and park. This is the trailhead. Total distance from Las Vegas is about 110 miles.
04/09/2015 Trip Notes: I made today's trip with the rock-hounds from the Henderson Senior Center. Even though I had been to the Crystal Wash Main Site a couple of years ago, I had never hiked the Crystal Wash Entrance Site. After going through the gap in the fence, follow the old road northwest to the edge of the wash. You will come to a metal sign-in register. After dipping down into the sandy wash, head upstream (northeast). There is no obvious hiking trail, but when walking up the wash, the petroglyphs start near the first big boulders on the right edge of the wash (Fig. 02). These are indicated by markers #5 and #6. From here walk back towards the main wash, walking slightly north. Notice a large boulder in the center of the wash with some petroglyphs towards the top (Marker #1). From this boulder, Marker #2 is back to the left against the cliffs across the canyon. Continuing up the wash, Marker #3 is on the left where the wash starts to bend to the east. Heading east, further up the wash you come to a boulder (Marker #4) in the center on the point of a fork in the wash. Taking either of these forks from Marker #4 will eventually lead you to the Crystal Wash Main Rock Art Site. (Refer to Fig. 03 below) I must point out that, due to the glaring sunlight, capturing good pictures of many of the panels on today's visit proved to be extremely difficult. The pictures and descriptions below are organized according to the site markers found at each location noted in (Fig. 02) above. The descriptions provided for each of the noted markers below were taken from the BLM’s Crystal Wash Entrance Brochure. Scroll to the bottom for more trip notes.
Marker #6: At this location there is a petroglyph panel depicting zoomorphs (mountain sheep and other quadrupeds) and anthropomorphs (people) (Fig. 6-01 & 6-02). In addition to the more easily recognizable anthropomorths in these figures, one figure is a type called an "elongated anthropomorph" (Fig. 6-04). This location appears to have been a small habitation or campsite that could have accommodated a family-sized group of people (Fig. 6-03). Sites of this type were often found near travel routes and could have functioned as stopovers for travelers on their way to another destination. Found in the area to the right of the panels is a grinding slick indicates that the food processing took place here. Grinding slicks were created when food (i.e., seeds, pine nuts) were ground on a flat stone surface with a mano, or a hand-held stone. Over time this activity would produce a smooth surface. Portable grinding stones or "metates," were also used. Besides plants, certain kinds of insects like grasshopppers and crickets, were dried and ground into meal. Minerals like hematite were also ground for use in pigments. These were then mixed with an organic binding agent such as water, plant juice, saliva, or urine to create paint.
(Fig. 6-01)
(Fig. 6-02)
(Fig. 6-03)
(Fig. 6-04)
Marker #5: At this location there is a boulder with a hole through it (Figs. 5-01 & 5-02). It appears that the roof of the hole has been painted with red ochre, a pigment made from iron oxide. The significance of the painted roof is unknown because there are no other designs on the rock. Although no discernible imagery seems to have been created in the application of this pigment, it’s placement was likely deliberate and is therefore not a natural occurrence. This shelter could have been meaningful to the individuals who used it and may have had a ritual significance.
(Fig. 5-01)
(Fig. 5-02)
Marker #1: The boulders found here are located on the right edge of the wash. There is a thin horizontal line that runs around all four sides of the uppermost boulder (Figs. 1-01 thru 1-04). This is a good example of one of the many non-representational motifs found at this site.
(Fig. 1-01)
(Fig. 1-02)
(Fig. 1-03)
(Fig. 1-04)
Marker #2:  Most of the petroglyphs at this site tend to be directly associated with the wash, however, this panel (Fig. 2-01) is somewhat more set in from the wash than many of the other panels. These non-representational motifs are typical of the Great Basin Curvilinear Abstract Style. As with many of the panels found at this site, the motifs appear to be very faint and quite worn due to the effects of age, wind and periodic flooding of the wash over hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
(Fig. 2-01)
Marker #3: The small motif depicted on this panel, left center of  (Fig. 3-01), is an image that may or may not be an anthropomorph. The small projections extending from this shape could possibly be arms
and legs. There is only one other figure at this site that may be an anthropomorph, and it can be found at marker #4. Other panels found here (Figs. 3-02 & 3-03), appear to be more non-representational motifs, typical of the Great Basin Curvilinear Abstract Style.
(Fig. 3-01)
(Fig. 3-02)
(Fig. 3-03)
Marker #04: This boulder, located near the division of the wash, is heavily embellished. Underneath the front side is a panel consisting of three very faint, wavy lines (Fig. 4-02). They are waterworn due to the periodic flooding of the wash. On the opposite side is a motif known as a "wearing blanket" that may be an anthropomorph dressed in a woven cloth (Fig. 4-01). This image is similar to others of this type, and is characterized by the "woven" pattern in the body of the figure. Some, like this one here, appear to have fringe at the bottom of the blanket. These figures are generally known as "patterned" anthropomorphs (PBAs) and are depicted with a variety of dots, bars and other designs arranged in a well-ordered manner. Since the Pahranagats have no known weaving tradition other than baskets, it’s possible that this motif represents the presence of Southwestern Puebloan cultures that lived in the area at the same time as the Pahranagats (AD 500-1250).
Fig. 4-01)
(Fig. 4-02)
(Fig. 4-03)
Trip Notes continued: After reaching Marker #4 and the last of the panels for this area, we continued to hike up the wash (Fig. 01) in search of the “Main Site”. Unfortunately, we missed a turn in the wash that would have led us to the entrance for the main site (Fig. 03), and as a result never did reach it. Sorry guys! Surprisingly, as hot, dry and barren as this area was, I was still able to find several blooming plants and wildflowers scattered along the wash. From blooming creosote bushes and Indian paintbrush to desert daisies (Figs. 04 thru 07). Even though there are many more petroglyphs to be found at the Crystal Wash Rock Art - Main Site, everyone seemed pleased with the petroglyphs we found here and enjoyed the hike.
Crystal Wash
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)

Reference Materials:

Terms Commonly Associated with Rock Art Study
Lincoln County Rock Art Guide

Click here to view pictures and info on the main site … Crystal Wash Rock Art - Main Site.

Ash Creek @ Calico Basin

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(Fig. 01)
Calico Basin Hike4
(Fig. 02)
04/17/2015 Trip Notes: Today, I hiked the area at the north end of Calico Basin with my fellow hiking partner, Blake Smith. Refer to my Calico Basin summary page [Calico Basin and Red Spring] for directions and more information on this location. In general, Calico Basin is a colorful desert area tucked between the gray limestone La Madre Mountains to the north, the red sandstone Calico Hills to the west, and a desert ridge to the south. Within the basin there are actually three year-round springs with permanent water that emerge from the base of these red and white sandstone cliffs: Red Spring, Calico Spring, and Ash Creek Spring. Today we hiked the area north of Ash Spring. As you can see from (Fig. 02), we hiked from the starting point noted in the lower right corner and hiked out across the desert to the end of the trail to the top of a peak (top center). From here we had to gingerly hike down a rather steep backside in order to pick up another trail in which to return upon. The view in (Fig. 03) was taken from the road looking out towards the area that we hiked. On both the hike out and the hike back we came upon dozens of blooming cactus and wildflowers, as well as several birds that were perched along the tops of various shrubs and cacti (Figs. 04 thru 13). The view in (Fig. 01) was taken from about half way back looking down towards the area of the spring. We hiked back to a ridge that ran west along the upper edge of the wetlands towards the beginning of Ash Spring. Before actually reaching the springs source, we began hiking down through the marsh-like area (Fig. 14) and along the trees and grasses that bordered its northern edge (Figs. 15 & 16). We were surprised to find this area was much drier than in previous years. It wasn’t until we reached its eastern end that we finally found evidence of flowing surface water (Figs. 17 thru 19). Hiking up out of the wash we came upon a large geoglyph (a.k.a. intaglio) that we had seen on a previous trip. Blake, standing near the center in the picture, noticed that it appeared larger than it was the last time we were here. He was right. I compared this picture (Fig. 20) to one I had taken previously and there were four additional rings that had been added to it. All in all we both felt that this one one of the best hikes we had taken this spring. On our way out of the basin, I took one final picture (Fig. 21) that captured a better view of Turtlehead Mountain in the background.
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EFP-Calico Basin 04
(Fig. 21)

Return to the [Calico Basin Summary Page]