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Valley of Shining Water: Along the Pahranagat Trail

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.

Arrow Canyon

After rounding a bend in the canyon we had a good first view of the narrows of Arrow Canyon.

Arrow Canyon Narrows

Into the narrows we went…

Into The Narrows

Into The Canyon

Through the Narrows

Canyon Walls

G.W. McLane Jr. – March 7, 1878

McLane, 1878

We were stopped near the head of the canyon by this 30-foot dam that was built by the CCC.

Arrow Canyon Dam

We headed back down the canyon and took more photos along the way…

Upper Arrow Canyon

Canyon Trail

Canyon View

Jared in the Narrows

Canyon Curve

Rocky Canyon

Leaving The Canyon

Muddy Cracks

Muddy Cracks

Here’s a view of the CCC dam from the other side.

Above the Dam

Below are photos of the rock art we came across as we explored the Arrow Canyon Wilderness.

Upper Petroglyphs

Feet Panel

Low Designs

Corner Petroglyphs

Canyon Petroglyphs

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!

Canyon Panel

This rock slab has some very intriguing carvings that cover it, including along the edges.

Carved Boulder

Here are some designs carved into the rock slab behind the previous one.

Boulder Designs

We came across a number of interesting shield-like petroglyphs.

Shields on a Boulder

Shields Panel

The Shield-Bearer

Decorated Shield

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.

Magenta Sky

The colorful light bouncing off the clouds also lit up my Jeep and the rocks behind camp.

Evening Glow at 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

The Gathering Site

Here’s a closer look at the nice petroglyphs.

Gallery of the Ancients

High Design

Searching boulders for petroglyphs in the Gallery of the Ancients.

Searching Boulders

Big Boulder Panel

There were quite a few Pahranagat Patterned Body Anthropomorphs at this site.

Inside the PBA

Pahranagat PBA

Front of the Boulder

The Hourglass Boulder

Hourglass Boulder

PBA Boulder

Faded Sheep on a Boulder

Faded Sheep on a Boulder


Boulder Panels

Three nice Patterned Body Anthropomorphs.

Patterned Body Anthropomorphs


Boulders & Clouds

Boulders & Clouds

Rock & Sky

The Vanishing Man

Vanishing Man

Exploring two-tracks along the Pahroc Range.

Two-Track Exploring

South Pahroc Exploring

The Tinaja Site

The Tinaja Site

Lichen the Petroglyphs

Lichen the Petroglyphs

Jared taking a photo as the rain began to fall and we returned to our Jeeps.

The Photographer and the Incoming Storm

This was the rainy view from our campsite next to Upper Pahranagat Lake.

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.

Making Tracks

The snow and clearing storm made for some nice conditions this morning.

Pahroc Valley

Boulders View

We found a couple petroglyph panels, but most of them were wet from the storm and almost impossible to see or photograph.

Rock Art Photographer

This was one of the dry panels that was easier to see.

Dry Petroglyphs in the Corner

Big Rocks Wilderness

Big Rocks Wilderness

Frosted Landscape


Two Jeeps

Two Jeeps

When we returned to the bottom of the valley we found drier and snow-free conditions.

Dry Lake Valley

As we drove higher into the mountains again, we encountered some very wet snow.

North Pahroc Range Snow

There were some places where the snow was probably over a foot deep.

Trailhead Snow

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.

Winter Wonderland

We gave up early and headed back down so we could start the drive home.

Rocky Spine & Clouds


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.



>> Rock Art of the Pahranagat Valley Photo Gallery

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