“Mesa Petroglyphs” or “Pass Right By Petroglyphs” (Mojave National Preserve)

If you are anything like me, there are locations which you have driven by dozens of time over the years, but have never bothered to stop. You might pass something that looks interesting, and each time you wonder to yourself, is there anything there? Only to keep driving, vowing one day to stop and check it out. Yesterday, while out in the Mojave National Preserve, I finally decided to stop and check out one of those said sites, and was delighted to find a small petroglyph site. I’ve dubbed the site the “Mesa Petroglyphs,” due to its location along a volcanic outcropping on an unnamed mesa.¬† “Pass Right By Petroglyphs,” also felt like an appropriate name, having done exactly that on countless occasions. The site likely has an official name, but I am unfamiliar with what it may be.

 

Volcanic Outcropping

Volcanic Outcropping

 

I have noted this particular design at several sites in the region. It has always reminded the author of a bird, however that is likely not an accurate translation.

I have noted this particular design at several sites in the region. It has always reminded the author of a bird, however that is likely not an accurate translation.

 

An array of grids and geometric designs.

An array of grids and geometric designs.

 

“Mesa Petroglyphs” is located a short distance from Cedar Canyon Road, near Watson Wash. It is a small petroglyph site, consisting of less than a few dozen designs ranging from anthropomorphic figures, big horn sheep, squiggly lines, grids, a sun motif, along with an array of geometric designs.

 

 

It is relatively safe to assume that the same people who created the Woods Wash petroglyphs are also responsible for the creation of this site, with the Woods Wash site being located less than five miles south-west. In terms of who that may have been, it was likely the Mohave Indians, or Chemehuevi, or even a combination of both.

Along the base of the volcanic cliff, there are some interesting stone placements, suggesting to the author that there may be burials in the vicinity. If you happen to find this site, please be extra vigilant in regard to respecting it.

 

An interesting panel, containing an anthropomorphic figure with a rounded lower half. A similar design is found in Woods Wash.

An interesting panel, containing an anthropomorphic figure with a rounded lower half. A similar design is found in Woods Wash.

 

A bold "cross" like design, along with a couple of stylized bighorn sheep.

A bold “cross” like design, along with a couple of stylized bighorn sheep.

 

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.