White Cliffs Petroglyphs

In 2010, Dan and I went out exploring Death Valley National Park. On one of the days of this multi-day trip, we took a long hike out into the remote backcountry and came across a small canyon of white rock. Carved into this soft volcanic ash, we found a series of petroglyph panels.

Petroglyphs carved into soft rock aren’t unknown in Death Valley, but the symbols here are quite unusual for the area. The first panel we encountered consisted almost entirely of female fertility figures glyphs with enlarged wombs. Next, we came upon a panel of bighorn sheep with some large bird glyphs. The long rake-like wings and pecked chest of the birds make me think they were created to produce rain. They would be thunderbirds.

In March 2014, I went out with researchers Don Austin, Geron Marcom, and Dave Edgar to revisit the site. The site is mainly unchanged, with a minor amount of vandalism. Don pointed out a boulder that had gone unnoticed before, and I found a rock circle. It was great to see the site again.

This is quite a unique spot. I have not seen anything like them elsewhere in Death Valley or even the rest of the Mojave desert.

I'm not giving directions to this special site. The usual disclaimer applies: if you visit this special site, please respect it and leave it untouched for the next explorers to discover and enjoy.