The Hayfield Petroglyphs are in the South Eagle Mountains, and could be considered one of Joshua Tree National Park’s best kept secrets. Along the southern mountain border of the park, there are no paved roads with the exception of the Cottonwood Springs entrance. Because of this lack of easy access, most people don’t give the area a second glimpse, therefore bypassing the treasures that the area has to offer.
There are two areas that contain the largest number of petroglyphs, we’ll refer to them as Hayfield South and Hayfield North.
Hayfield South is a mile long, and runs along the base of the Eagle Mountain. There are several hundred petroglyphs stretching out over this site. Many of the designs are simple, and abstract; yet there are also anthropomorphic and zoomorphic depictions. The designs appear to vary in age, based on the amount of re-varnishing that has occurred on the rock surfaces. This may also indicate that several cultures at different time periods created the petroglyphs. Based on geographical location it can be assumed that this was Cahuilla territory, however some of the symbols that are present are usually related to the Mohave Indians that would have typically resided 100-150 miles north-east of Hayfield.
The number of petroglyphs at Hayfield North is smaller than that of the southern site, with probably fewer than a hundred designs. While the northern site lacks in petroglyphs, it makes up for in other ways, possibly making it even more interesting than its counterpart. Located a little over a half-mile up a canyon from the most eastern portion of Hayfield South. Hayfield North was likely a habitation site, several rock shelters are situated in the boulders which make up the canyon walls. One particular shelter is quite interesting, a large granite rock is situated outside of it with three wide and deep mortars ground into it. The mortars would have been used to grind nuts, berries, and even small animals. Based on this size of the mortars, it leads me to believe that this area was inhabited for many years.
Hayfield North contains a wall of pictographs, all of which are painted in red ochre. While faint, many of them are still visible thanks to the overhang above the them, keeping them out of direct wet weather. I have included below both an image of the pictographs as seen naturally, as well as an enhanced image that brightens the dulled pigments.
Overall the two Hayfield sites are impressive, there is no vandalism and little foot traffic (only one other set of human footprints in the wash). Truly a jewel in Joshua Tree!