“Disney” Pictographs (Joshua Tree National Park)

Joshua Tree National Park is a place known around the world for its abundance of Joshua Trees, massive boulders, and beautiful landscape. Long before white settlers discovered the beauty, the Cahuilla Indians inhabited the area.

The Cahuilla left their mark on the land in a number of ways, the most visible of those being petroglyphs (carved designs in rock) and pictographs (painted designs on rock). Numerous petroglyph and pictograph locations lie within Joshua Tree National Park and the surrounding areas.

The “Disney Pictographs” is the most well-known rock art location within the park. Located just a short distance from the popular tourist attraction, Barker Dam and along the Barker Dam Nature Trail; this site sees plenty of traffic on a daily basis.

The location is made up of authentic petroglyphs, as well as pictographs. However a majority of the pictographs that are visible to the naked eye are a product of the Disney Company. In the late 1950’s the ever popular movie studio shot scenes from the film “Chico, the Misunderstood Coyote” at this site. The designs that originally covered the wall didn’t show up well on film, so they opted to paint over the designs to make them more vibrant on film. Some of the “touch up” work also included painting inside of original Native petroglyphs. Today this would be looked at as vandalization, and would not be tolerated.

In the picture gallery below I have included photos of the site as you see them naturally. As previously stated, the painted designs that are bright are the product of Disney. I  utilized Dstretch software on some of the photos, this allows some of the faded, not visible painted designs to pop out.




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.