“Slab Rock Shelter” Pictographs (Joshua Tree National Park)


The Wonderland of Rocks area of Joshua Tree National Park is a treasure trove of rock art sites, likely because of the water that regularly flowed through this area. Most of these sites remain little known to the general public, and the park service would like to keep it that way. All that it takes to locate these sites is a keen eye, and knowing the signs of what you are looking for. This particular site, I’m going to call “Slab Rock Shelter” due to the shelter’s location above a large slab of granite. I came upon this site without knowing of its existence, which made it a nice bonus on top of finding the Diamond Solstice site that I had searched for on that same day.

The pictographs in the shelter consist of monochrome and polychrome designs. Three of the multiple red designs stand out the most and are visible without the use of enhancements.  The polychrome designs use red and black pigments, they are more difficult to make out without enhancement.  I have included both enhanced and unenhanced  images in the gallery below to enable you to see the designs that are relatively invisible today.

Roughly 50 feet from the shelter there is a mortar hole. The mortar would have been used to grind nuts, berries and even small animals.




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.