Hayfield Petroglyphs (Joshua Tree National Park)

Hayfield Rock Art - Petroglyphs

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.

 

Hayfield South - Anthropomorphic figure that appears to be kneeling with its arms outstretched.

Hayfield South – Anthropomorphic figure that appears to be kneeling with its arms outstretched.

 

Hayfield South - The "I" shape, and the cross shape designs are symbols that are commonly associated with the Mohave Indians.

Hayfield South – The “I” shape, and the cross shape designs are symbols that are commonly associated with the Mohave Indians.

 

Hayfield South - Snake petroglyphs

Hayfield South – Snake petroglyphs

 

Hayfield South - Petroglyphs

Hayfield South – Petroglyphs

 

Hayfield South - The design and style of these petroglyphs are like nothing else in the area.

Hayfield South – The design and style of these petroglyphs are like nothing else in the area.

 

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 - Three mortars ground into a granite stone, outside of rock shelter.

Hayfield North – Three mortars ground into a granite stone, outside of rock shelter.

 

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.

 

Hayfield North - Wall of pictographs painted in red ochre. (non-enhanced)

Hayfield North – Wall of pictographs painted in red ochre. (non-enhanced)

 

Hayfield North - The same image as above, however now it has been enhanced to show the faded pigment.

Hayfield North – The same image as above, however now it has been enhanced to show the faded pigment.

 

 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!

 

Hayfield North - Massive boulder with large petroglyph design.

Hayfield North – Massive boulder with large petroglyph design.

 

Hayfield North - Petroglyphs

Hayfield North – 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.

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