Rock Art of the Pahranagat Valley: In Search of the Pahranagat Man
Thursday – Sunday, January 12-15, 2023
This holiday weekend I took an extra day off from work on Friday so I could spend four days hiking, camping and searching for petroglyphs in the warmer temperatures of the Pahranagat Valley in Nevada, which straddles the transition zone between the Mojave and Great Basin Deserts. But just like during my recent New Years weekend, the weather would have other plans for me this weekend. I left from work on Thursday afternoon and made my way down to St. George where I grabbed a late dinner and then found a spot to camp just over the state line in Arizona. Jared also drove down that evening after work and joined up with me at my campsite after I had already fallen asleep. In the morning we both got up just before sunrise and headed further southwest to the Moapa Valley where we followed the Muddy River to the mouth of Pahranagat Wash and went on our first hike into the narrows of Arrow Canyon.
The Narrows of Arrow Canyon
Once we arrived at the trailhead we followed the rocky wash into Arrow Canyon.
After rounding a bend in the canyon we had a good first view of the narrows of Arrow Canyon.
Into the narrows we went…
G.W. McLane Jr. – March 7, 1878
We were stopped near the head of the canyon by this 30-foot dam that was built by the CCC.
We headed back down the canyon and took more photos along the way…
Here’s a view of the CCC dam from the other side.
Below are photos of the rock art we came across as we explored the Arrow Canyon Wilderness.
I’ve seen this one mentioned elsewhere as being fake since there are definitely some other fake carvings in the area, but this one looks like it could be authentic to me? But what do I know!
This rock slab has some very intriguing carvings that cover it, including along the edges.
Here are some designs carved into the rock slab behind the previous one.
We came across a number of interesting shield-like petroglyphs.
After leaving the Arrow Canyon Wilderness we followed Pahranagat Wash to the north past the Delamar Mountains and through the Coyote Spring Valley until we reached the lower end of the Pahranagat Valley. We followed a side road into Eightmile Valley and found a place to camp shortly before sunset. Our hike into Arrow Canyon had taken much longer than I thought it would, so we didn’t have any time to search for more petroglyphs this evening like I had hoped to do.
Although the sky had been pretty much overcast all day, some light did peek through after sunset to illuminate the clouds with a bright magenta glow.
The colorful light bouncing off the clouds also lit up my Jeep and the rocks behind camp.
Rock Art of the Pahranagat Valley
We spent all day Saturday searching for petroglyphs along the Pahranagat Trail, but were cut short a couple of hours before sunset as the weather system arrived and it started to rain. Once the rain began we grabbed dinner from a gas station near Ash Springs (they had a great burger!) and then headed over to the campground at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge where we stayed in a campsite along the shore of the Upper Pahranagat Lake. We knew it was supposed to rain all night and thought it would be a good idea to stick closer to a paved road this night, just in case. Here are some photos of the many petroglyphs we saw during the day!
The Gathering Site
Here’s a closer look at the nice petroglyphs.
Searching boulders for petroglyphs in the Gallery of the Ancients.
There were quite a few Pahranagat Patterned Body Anthropomorphs at this site.
The Hourglass Boulder
Faded Sheep on a Boulder
Three nice Patterned Body Anthropomorphs.
Boulders & Clouds
The Vanishing Man
Exploring two-tracks along the Pahroc Range.
The Tinaja Site
Lichen the Petroglyphs
Jared taking a photo as the rain began to fall and we returned to our Jeeps.
This was the rainy view from our campsite next to Upper Pahranagat Lake.
On Sunday morning we woke up around sunrise after it had rained consistently for much of the night. We weren’t sure if the weather was going to clear and what the road conditions were going to be like, but we decided to try to find a couple more petroglyphs before heading home in the afternoon.
As we left the bottom of the valley and started climbing to the base of the mountains we started to encounter some snow.
The snow and clearing storm made for some nice conditions this morning.
We found a couple petroglyph panels, but most of them were wet from the storm and almost impossible to see or photograph.
This was one of the dry panels that was easier to see.
Big Rocks Wilderness
When we returned to the bottom of the valley we found drier and snow-free conditions.
As we drove higher into the mountains again, we encountered some very wet snow.
There were some places where the snow was probably over a foot deep.
We started to search for more petroglyphs, but the snow made it tricky since I hadn’t brought my snow boots with, so we didn’t find very much in this area. I will have to return when it’s dry.
We gave up early and headed back down so we could start the drive home.
Even though I had originally planned to stay another day, Jared had to be at work on Monday and the weather forecast wasn’t looking good on Monday, so I decided to head home ahead of the storm so I wouldn’t have to drive through it.