Diamond Solstice Pictographs (Joshua Tree National Park) {REBOOT}

The path is now well-worn, but there are no signs of detrimental impact. That was my finding when I recently revisited the Diamond Solstice Pictographs, nearly two years after publishing it on this website, and one year after disclosing its location in my book “Hidden Joshua Tree.” I have found the same to be true with the nearly dozen sites which I have revisited since the book was released. Despite the fact that people have been visiting these sites, and doing so responsibly – they are now considered off-limits, according to the newly revised Superintendent’s Compendium.

The Diamond Solstice pictographs are situated in a short canyon amongst the Wonderland of Rocks. The setting is all around stunning with its towering walls of monzogranite, cacti, manzanita, and variety of scrub. In the monzogranite formations are hidden nooks and crannies,  formed thousands of years ago by wind and water erosion – it is here where we find the vibrant orange, diamond-shaped painted designs.


Along with the diamonds, we find other symbols and patterns, such as a sun, which appears to be cresting the horizon. Intermingled among the diamond motifs, a circular shape, possibly representing the moon. But what are the diamonds themselves?  It is possible that they may be stars, or to go in a completely different direction, maybe they represent the female genitalia. It is possible that both interpretations may be wrong, after all, this is “white man” logic.

Archeologists have suggest that the site is a marker for the summer solstice, meaning that an “event” occurs at sunrise on the morning of the solstice, where the first rays of the sun penetrate a portion of light on the design, indicating that a new season as begun. According to the Dzrtgrls, at a summer solstice observation in 1984, it was noted that, “an intense, vertical, finger-like beam of sunlight pierced the shadows of the shelter and pointed directly to the sunburst motif.”

In regard to the possible representation of female genitalia, diamond patterns are often found at sites that are associated with female puberty rituals.

Whatever the representational meaning is, it is a fascinating site, that deserves to be seen, learned from, and admired.




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.