Mary’s Cave Pictographs (Mojave National Preserve)

Looking out from Mary's Cave

Looking out from Mary’s Cave


Finding Mary’s Cave was a pleasant surprise, I was in the area visiting two other sites when I decided to scout the area further. Located along the base of Wild Horse Mesa in the Mojave National Preserve, and well off the beaten path for most visitors, Mary’s Cave has managed to stay well-preserved and vandalism free with the exception of an inscription dated 1934.

The cave shelter measures well over three yards. Both the inside wall and ceiling contain pictographs in red pigment.  A large quantity of the designs are faint, but visible without any sort of enhancements. Beside the shelter is a natural depression that was caused by many years of water running off of the mesa. The depression would collect water, making it ever more inhabitable to the  Natives. In later years this depression in the stone was dammed-up by a rancher to provide water for their nearby ranch.

The cave falls within Chemehuevi territory, but it is possible that the Mohave inhabited the shelter as well. Both tribes tended to utilize the same area despite their traditional territories.

In the photo gallery below I have included both unenhanced and enhanced images. The enhanced images have been enhanced with Dstretch software, the enhancements allow the faded designs to come more clear, and the nearly invisible to be seen once again.


Interested in visiting this site?

BOOK OPTION: Mary’s Cave 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.