Diamond Solstice Pictographs

Nestled in the Wonderland of Rocks and just around the corner from Alister's Cave in Joshua Tree National Park is another rock shelter with pictographs: the Diamond Solstice Pictographs. The main symbols here are a sunburst arc, diamonds, and diamond chains. Their meanings have been lost to time, but there are some theories.

Some reports claim that the sun aligns with a specific spot on the sunburst arc on the summer solstice. I haven't been there to see it for myself, but it's certainly possible. However, I believe it's more likely that the sunburst arc was used as a calendar to track the passage of time.

I found this quote from a professional rock study on Joshua Tree to be insightful:

Consultants commonly noted that Euro-American interpreters of rock art sites tend to be overzealous in their claims that solstice symbols permeate many rock art images in the Joshua Tree area. Likewise, park staff and volunteers have occasionally investigated claims of rock art in the park being specially illuminated during the solstice, as claimed in some published sources, and found these claims to be fraudulent.


A number of the sites and images reported as being related to the solstices in local and regional archaeological literatures were summarily dismissed as being unrelated to solstice events by contemporary tribal members.

The other pictographs, the diamonds and diamond chains, are likely associated with female puberty rituals. Diamond chain patterns have been found at many other sites in Southern California, such as the Motte Rimrock site, and are thought to represent the Milky Way. These could be related to the ritual, but no one knows for sure.

Whether we know the meaning of the symbols or not, this is a great site! It's amazing that the red pigments have remained so vibrant for hundreds of years. Please respect this site by following Rock Art Etiquette.

My photos below are from visits in 2010 and 2013.