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.
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.
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.