Indian Well Petroglyphs (Mojave National Preserve)


Indian Well is located in central Lanfair Valley, with the confines of the Mojave National Preserve. The Mojave Road is located just south of this site, previous to this route being used by white people making their way across the Mojave Desert, the route was used as a prehistoric trade route for the native people along the Colorado River and those along the Pacific coast. Indian Well with its natural well would have been one of few places for travelers of this route to obtain water.

The largest concentration of petroglyphs are on the basalt outcropping directly above and beside the well. There are however scattered petroglyphs within 100 feet of the well in both directions. In all there are likely 500 – 600 petroglyphs at this site, the largest majority of which are abstract designs, in the form of circles, lines,  and gridded lines. There are both anthropomorphic and zoomorphic designs as well, but far fewer than the abstract.

Despite being located in Chemehuevi territory, the designs are a mixture of Chemehuevi and Mohave designs. The thicker and more symmetrical designs are character features found mostly in designs created by the Mohave Indians. Other designs may be present from even earlier groups of people who inhabited these lands before the Chemehuevi.

The site is well-preserved, with minimal vandalism. There are a few inscriptions from early white travelers with dates ranging from 1900-1919.  The natural well still holds water, however stagnant and green.

Interested in visiting this site?


BOOK OPTION: Indian Well is featured in Secret Places in the Mojave Desert Vol. IV. Detailed maps, and GPS coordinates are included.  Order your copy now.



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.