CA, Anza Borrego and Southern Deserts

Mule Tank Petroglyphs

Mule Tank is a small, seasonal tinaja along the foothills of the Mule Mountains along the Colorado River. It is a long walk to any other source of water, so this catchment would have been an important source of water in this vast and arid region. The petroglyphs themselves are in the small canyon below and at the tank.

The Chemehuevi and Mojave Indian groups were both in this area and likely made some, if not all, of the petroglyphs here.

Not far from Mule Tank and along an Indian trail are a series of geoglyphs (also called intaglios). A geoglyph is where rocks were removed to create a negative image. These geoglyphs were probably made for group ceremonies like dances and rituals. A large circular trail crosses over one of the long-distance trails here. It is probably a dance circle. Part of it has been destroyed by a dirt road but enough remains that you can clearly see it.

The geoglyphs here are sets of circles, cleared of desert pavement, that lay in a semicircular pattern adjacent to the trail on the gravel bench above the wash.

Indian trails cross great distances over the open desert, usually from one water source to another, for trade and contact. One of the trails here leads to Corn Springs, some thirty miles away, and another heads over to the Colorado River.

Check out the Dzrtgrls site, which has a trip report on Mule Tank.

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About Guy Starbuck

Exploring the American West.
  • Nevada
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