Budweiser Spring in the southern Granite Mountains has been on my list of places to visit for a few months. I had heard rumors of pictographs (Native American paintings) being located in the jumble of granite boulders around the spring, but I did not have any idea where. This was going to be a bit of a crap shot to see if they could be located.
My wife and I set off on a chilly December morning for Budweiser Spring. The seven plus mile drive is via a bumpy dirt road that first shoots north toward Granite Mountain, then west, then south-west; briefly entering the Bristol Mountain Wilderness, and finally north to the site of the spring. Travel to the spring at one time wasn’t so indirect, but wilderness boundaries have blocked access to many of the early roads in the area.
We arrived at Budweiser Spring around 10:30am, after a quick bite to eat we began our search through the maze of granite. We started east of the old wooden corral, that is left over from the early ranching days at the spring. Despite there being a number of rock shelters, east of the corral we came up empty-handed.
Our search in the immediate area around the corral and spring…again, nothing. West of the corral is the largest concentration of granite boulders in the area, so we figured, this must be it. It doesn’t take long before we find some inscriptions carved into the rocks, one of which says, “Twin Springs 1894.” This is interesting because there is a Twin Springs in the Granite Mountains, but not in this immediate area. Did our friends mistaken this site for Twin Springs, or was this the given name, before it became known as Budweiser Spring?
A short distance pass the inscriptions, we came across another boulder that appears to have circular petroglyphs carved into it. I’m not fully convinced that they are Native American, but it is possible. On the other side, there are two additional small circular designs.
Despite my doubt about the “petroglyphs”, I feel like we’re on the right track. Historic inscriptions are common to find at or near the site of Native American “rock art”. We spend the next couple of hours searching high and low west of the spring, and again, find nothing.
Despite the lack of finding what we had set out to look for, Budweiser Spring was a worthy trip. The scenery is breath-taking, the ranching ruins are interesting, and it was nice to finally spend a day in the Granite Mountains. While we didn’t find the pictographs this time, I’m sure they’re still out there. There is a reason that the Granite Mountains have been said to hold the highest concentration of pictographs in the Mojave Desert.
As for Budweiser Spring, it is unclear how close a ranch was once situated to the spring. It is known however that the water is piped into the corral from a well which was dug roughly 140 yards from it. The spring also feed water to the Orange Blossom Mine in the Bristol Mountains in the early 1900’s. The water pipeline is still visible along the road leading to the spring.