Arch Rock & The Arch Pictographs (Valley of Fire State Park)

Valley of Fire is well-known for the extensive number of petroglyphs that can be found within the park, and rightfully so, there are thousands of them! What they aren’t known for is pictographs, and that can be understood, because there is only one small panel of them. For those unaware of the difference between a petroglyph and a pictograph; a petroglyph is a carving made into a rock face, a pictograph is painted on the rock.

This small pictograph panel can be found near Arch Rock, one of the popular photographic locations in the park. You’ll have to figure out exactly where they are by doing some searching on your own. The designs are somewhat faded, and the red paint blends in with the orange rock. Some of the black paint has remained vibrant enough that you can still see it clearly.

The Arch was formed over many thousands of years, strong desert winds and rain washed away the sandstone, causing the natural arch to form. Eventually the arch will collapse, but until that time we have it’s beauty to enjoy.

The pictographs likely had been placed at the arch, because it held a sacred meaning to the Native people who once held ceremonies within the Valley of Fire.

The Gypsum People were the first known inhabitants of Valley of Fire, they visited here 4000-1800 years ago (2000 B.C.-200 A. D.). They were nomadic hunter-gather people.  It is believed that these people didn’t live in the Valley of Fire, but rather traveled here for ceremonial and religious purposes.

Later groups of native people who would spend time in and around the Valley of Fire include the Basket Makers, the Anasazi Pueblo People that farmed in nearby Moapa Valley, and later in historic times, the Southern Paiute.

Valley of Fire - The Arch

Valley of Fire – The Arch


Arch Rock Pictographs

Arch Rock Pictographs


Secret Places in the Mojave Desert Vol. 7

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.