Ash Springs Petroglyphs

The Ash Springs petroglyph site is located on BLM land behind the small rural Nevada community of the same name. Driving through Pahranagat Valley on Highway 93, Ash Springs is one of those places that if you blink, you will completely miss it, consisting of a Shell gas station and a handful of scattered residences. As recent as 2013, Ash Springs was known as a premier location to soak in the mad made pools at their natural hot springs. However due to both safety concerns and concern for the endangered spring fish the BLM closed them, and they remain that way to this day.

Long before modern people felt the need to “improve” nature, the Pahranagat People, a band of the Southern Paiutes utilized the hot springs at Ash Springs, it supported a group of roughly 30-40 members of the tribe over the cold winter months. Dozens of rock shelters located above the hot springs provided primitive shelters from cold winds that blew across the valley.

The Pahranagat saw winter as a time of rest. Much of which was spent fraternizing with one another, creating stone tools, and apparently creating petroglyphs. Many of the rough textured granite boulders in the region are pecked with petroglyphs. Bighorn sheep, some of which are depicted with spears through their bodies are by far the most prominent design among the dozen or so boulders adorned with “rock art.” Anthropomorphic (human ‘like’) figures grace several of the boulders, and long meandering lines are a recurring theme throughout.

A significant portion of the petroglyphs are difficult to see clearly due to the long-term natural deterioration of the stone on which they are placed. Despite this damage done by environment breakdown there has been little human vandalism, despite the unnatural trails that lead throughout the site.



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.