“Surprise Rock” Pictographs / Petroglyphs (Joshua Tree National Park)

Unenhanced image of "Surprise Rock"
"Surprise Rock"

“Surprise Rock”

 

The “Surprise Rock” Pictograph site is impressive, almost as impressive as the elusive “Hidden Cave” site. The sheer volume of both pictographs and petroglyphs in this hollowed out boulder is overwhelming, and is an easy contender for one of the largest sites in the Wonderland of Rocks area.

The pictograph designs are painted with orange ochre. While their color is fading, a majority of the designs remain vibrant enough to see without any image enhancements.

The petroglyphs for the most part are more recent than the pictographs, as they are carved over top of the painted elements. Many of the petroglyphs are thick, bold, and very simplistic in style.

In an alcove below the main panel, there are additional pictographs and petroglyphs, along with a handful of small cupules (a circular man-made hollow on the surface of a rock). Cupules are the oldest known form of rock art. With three different elements of rock art at this site, it is very likely that this site was used over a long period, possibly by different Native people.

Unenhanced image of "Surprise Rock"

Unenhanced image of “Surprise Rock”

 

Unenhanced image of "Surprise Rock"

Unenhanced image of “Surprise Rock”

 

Unenhanced image of "Surprise Rock"

Unenhanced image of “Surprise Rock”

 

 

 

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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