The mountains behind Barstow, CA are a treasure trove of ancient Native American petroglyphs. Black Canyon and Inscription Canyon in the Black Mountains is a place that both the curious and the well versed have come to learn more about the earliest people to have lived in this land of basalt, desert scrub, and sand.
Archaeological evidence reveals that this region was occupied by humans for over 8,000 years. Extensive studies of the petroglyphs have revealed both Great Basin curvilinear and Great Basin rectilinear styles. These styles have been traced to the Shoshonean Period of the Western Great Basin, dating from AD 1000 to historic times.
The Black Mountains are vast, and because of the high concentration of “rock art” in the aforementioned canyons most people don’t venture outside of those areas. Smaller sites like the one at Tortoise Mountain are seldom visited because the public is not aware of them. Tortoise Mountain is located west of the southeast entrance to Black Canyon. There are a few sporadic petroglyph sites on the east side of the mountain, but a majority are found on the high basalt walls on the northwest corner of the mountain.