Boulder View Petroglyphs (Sand to Snow National Monument)

Pipes Canyon is filled with homes, and no trespassing signs. Some go as far as having large signs with the words “GO AWAY!” painted on them. As I was driving along, trying to find my way, the Five Man Electrical Band song, “Signs” was running through my head. “And the sign said anybody caught trespassin’ would be shot on sight. So I jumped on the fence and-a yelled at the house, Hey! What gives you the right? To put up a fence to keep me out or to keep mother nature in. If God was here he’d tell you to your face, Man, you’re some kinda sinner.”

Long before the houses and signs of today’s Pipes Canyon, the Serrano Indians had lived here during the winter months along with nearby Johnson and Lucerne Valleys. During the summer months they retreated to higher elevations in the San Bernardino Mountains.






Much like today’s people, the Serrano left their mark upon the land. Petroglyphs, and even pictographs can be found in various locations in the Pioneertown vicinity. Were these carvings/peckings and painted images also signs? Did they tell others to stay away, or were they welcoming and helpful messages? It is hard to say with any amount of certainty, ask any Native American and they will tell you that the meaning behind these ancient messages has long been lost.

The Boulder View site sits along a road that has been closed by the BLM, most likely to protect the petroglyphs, many of which are visible from the road. Access is restricted to foot and horse traffic.  It is a leisurely walk from the parking area, in less than ten minutes I was viewing petroglyphs.






The landscape is reminiscent of the boulder strung landscape of Joshua Tree National Park, only more peaceful, with no hipsters in site. To be frank, the petroglyphs found at this site are easily as nice as many of those found in the National Park. The designs are intriguing and boldly carved, featuring a spiraled sun motif, diamond chains, several atlatls, along with various squares, circles, and abstract lines. They are not all concentrated in a single boulder jumble, but rather spread out across a square half-mile radius.

Considering the size of the area, and the number of boulders strung throughout the region, it is very likely that there is more here than what I was able to locate. I’m already feeling the itch to return to see what may be further hidden among this place of the ancients.


Indian Paintbrush in the vicinity.

Indian Paintbrush in the vicinity.


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.