Yaranka Canyon / Johnson Valley Petroglyphs

 

I found these Johnson Valley petroglyphs after reading a report from an off-roader that mentioned finding a granite boulder outcropping in Yaranka Canyon that contained a few petroglyphs. I was able to research the location-based on a few specific geographical details that they mentioned in their report. Upon finding the location it became clear that the site is likely more well-known than I had previous thought, some modern graffiti was located at the site near the petroglyphs. Thankfully it appear that the vandals didn’t actually paint any graffiti on top of the ancient designs, but rather directly beside them. This doesn’t excuse the fact that a cultural site was vandalized, it just means that the idiot that performed the task wasn’t as big of an idiot as they could have been.

 

Note the circular chain, and diamond chain patterns. It is believed that the diamond chain pattern may represent a female entering puberty.

Note the circular chain, and diamond chain patterns. It is believed that the diamond chain pattern may represent a female entering puberty.

 

There are four panels to the site, designs are abstract and mostly geometric shapes. There is an obvious sun design on one of the panels.

Native people arrived in Johnson Valley an estimated 11,000 years ago. The last known Native inhabitants were the Serranos. The Serranos stayed in Johnson Valley for a short period, and left the valley in the 1870’s because epidemics began to kill off the tribe.

 

Two petroglyphs near an old stone cabin. Note the bottom female design. It looks identical to designs at Barker Dam in Joshua Tree National Park.

Two petroglyphs near an old stone cabin. Note the bottom female design. It looks identical to designs at Barker Dam in Joshua Tree National Park.

 

Nearby there is a small crumbling rock cabin against another granite boulder outcropping. At this cabin there are two additional petroglyphs. One of which is a female figure. The design is similar to female petroglyph symbols in the Barker Dam area of Joshua Tree National Park.

 

Interested in visiting this site?

BOOK OPTION: Yaranka Canyon / Johnson Valley Petroglyphs are 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.

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