When we visited Death Valley, we had a hard time convincing the ranger to tell us where petroglyphs were located in the park. Many visitors vandalize these rock carvings, knowingly and unknowingly, so it is understandable that the rangers would be protective of such artifacts. We told them that we knew not to touch them or to do any rubbings of them and that we only wanted to take photographs. The ranger, convinced that we were probably safe and responsible, told us of a trail that we could hike that was near some petroglyphs.

upside down stick figure with vertical lines on either side.

The drive to our hike was enough to ruin the rental car, but the trail itself was flat and easy. Because we have experience in finding petroglyphs, it was obvious where to leave the trail and hike over to where the petroglyphs were. Some of the first carvings we saw were from vandals, but further in, we were able to find many interesting images.

This one (my favorite) represents death. It is a person falling downward through a tube or tunnel. At first I thought it was a representation of birth, but after researching this form, we discovered it to be quite the opposite. Several years later, we did find a petroglyph that represents birth in Moab, Utah. We wondered if someone died here a long time ago.

multiple images on one black rock

Many of the petroglyphs were high up on the walls. we ended up hiking around the rock formations to get a better look at the higher images. We had to be very careful so as not to step on any rock that might have had petroglyps on it. We tried to remain on sand as much as possible.

It is good to have a zoom lens to get close-ups of what you can not get close to. We also brought binoculars, which helped us to search the area for more images.

On this rock, you can see what I believe is an atlatl (a hunting tool) represented with an arrow pointing down, and a circle. There is a second atlatl below that and slightly to the left where the circle is filled in. The image left of the lower atlatl might be a person, but we are unsure if it has more significance than that. Another person resides on the right of the upper atlatl.

cross hatches, curves and ovals on brown rock

On the right is the grid pattern. From studies in other areas, it it thought that this represents a net or fence used for hunting. Other theories suggest this is one of the patterns seen when you close your eyes and apply pressure to them.

The squiggle lines may represent a river, but I have been unable to find anything close in my translation book.

To the right of the squiggle lines there are three oval symbols with dots inside. This image initially looked like footprints along the side of a river, but according to my translation book and after viewing other petroglyphs with footprints in them, I am not convinced that these are footprints (no toes). According to similar symbols in my translation book, it may be the female symbol.

spiderlike legs from circle over lines with circles on ends

On the left, the circle with the lines coming out of it is similar to the symbol for the weeping eye, which is a circle with lines coming out of it. The image on the rock on the left, where straight lines come out of one horizontal line is the symbol for rain.

The circles connected by a line represent a conference that took place there, according to a Navajo translation, and to others, it is thought to represent the passage of the sun.

circles with lines below and plumelike petroglyph

The petroglyph in the center of the photo, though hard to see in this picture, is a series of bead like items. I found this to be a common petroglyph in the area. My translation book calls it the squash symbol. It signifies the root of the squash vine, the criss- crossing of the water gourd vine, the bean plant, or the water gourd. The double gourd is significant for carrying sacred water and for drinking by peyote seekers.

The image on the left may be a corn stalk.

It is hard to tell if the three images on the left are faded atlatls or something else. They are similar to the symbol for the Hopi red ant clan as seen at Willow Springs, AZ.

animal sketches

The circle with the arrow on the right side of the image may be authentic, but I suspect the sun on the bottom right is modern day vandalism. Instead of being chiseled, it appears as though someone scraped the rock with another rock to draw the image. It is also unlikely that scraping a rock this lightly on the surface will leave a visible scar several hundred years later (but that is just my unprofessional opinion, and it is inexcusable to vandalize).

hand and many other markings

The "+" symbol on the top left may be a star, or the symbol for the star clan of the Hopi tribe. I think my translation book may be biased towards Hopi translations, and they may not be a good basis for translation of petroglyphs in Death Valley.

In this image, there are many atlatls and a nice image of a hand.