Cow Cove Petroglyphs (Mojave National Preserve) {REBOOT}

Cow Cove Petroglyphs
Cow Cove (Mojave National Preserve)

Cow Cove (Mojave National Preserve)

 

The eastern Mojave Desert contains a treasure trove of archaeological sites of various sizes and significance, many of which are little to not at all known by the general public. The Cow Cove petroglyph site has become more of a public rock art site, it’s semi-remote location in the northeast corner of the Aiken Cinder Cone field has been regularly advertised in multiple guide books (including my own), as well as having been published on several websites.

With this “reboot,” I have provided a map of the area, including the hiking trail, and an outline of the area containing the highest concentration of petroglyphs. I do caution you however, there is no good way to reach the trailhead in a standard passenger car. If you are not equipped with a 4WD vehicle, you will more than likely become a statistic; ending up stuck, broken down, or dead. Entering from the north, the roads have some very deep sand, and from the south have sections of road that are very rocky.

 

Basalt cliffs at Cow Cove are dotted with petroglyphs of all shapes and sizes.

Basalt cliffs at Cow Cove are dotted with petroglyphs of all shapes and sizes.

 

Cow Cove - One of my favorite designs at Cow Cove. What is it? Who knows, but it does have some "bug like" qualities to it.

Cow Cove – One of my favorite designs at Cow Cove. What is it? Who knows, but it does have some “bug like” qualities to it.

 

Cow Cove - Possible sheep hoof-prints, along with a "basket or shield like" design.

Cow Cove – Possible sheep hoof-prints, along with a “basket or shield like” design.

 

If this will be your first time visiting a “rock art” site, or if you are not aware of the proper etiquette, please be sure to read: Hands off the Petroglyph! Etiquette for Visiting a Petroglyph / Pictograph Site. While it might sound funny at first, these ancient carvings can easily be damaged, and they are irreplaceable.

I have now visited Cow Cove on several occasions, and on each visit, have found several petroglyph panels that I had previously missed. It has also come to my attention as of late, that there is yet another entire “section” that I’ve managed to still overlook.  That is fine with me however, this portion of the Mojave Desert is one of my favorites, and return trips are always welcome.

 

Cow Cove - A large "basket or shield like" design.

Cow Cove – A large “basket or shield like” design.

 

Cow Cove - Various mysterious, and abstract designs.

Cow Cove – Various mysterious, and abstract designs.

 

Cow Cove - "Bug-like" designs.

Cow Cove – “Bug-like” designs.

 

The designs at Cow Cove fit the same styles as those found at other nearby sites in the Mojave Preserve, they are comprised of mostly abstract geometric designs. Two tribes regularly inhabited this portion of the Eastern Mojave, the Chemehuevi and the Mohave, yet other tribes regularly traveled through via the trading route, which today we know as the Mojave Road.

Why Cow Cove? Rock art is usually found in an area where water is or was present. Why that is so, there really isn’t a golden explanation. The reasoning that makes the most sense is the importance of water to living; especially in a hot, and mostly dry environment. Today there is no water to be found regularly at Cow Cove, but there is plenty of evidence of there once being, in the form of a series of washes and sinks.

 

Cow Cove - Large rake or claw marks.

Cow Cove – Large rake or claw marks.

 

Cow Cove Petroglyphs

Cow Cove Petroglyphs

 

 

 

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.

  • pat

    Reboot or not, it’s still a great post.

  • Anthony

    The sheep hoof prints are similar to the ones you can see at China Lake in the Talking Stone documentary .

  • wes

    i like the hiking map jim.. i have ur secret places maps. i live in the preserve an try to discover new sites all the time.. an was surprised to find petros on grotto hills too.