Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Small Rock Shelter Alcove Pictographs - Joshua Tree National Park

This is another great (and largely unknown) little pictograph site in Joshua Tree National Park. Over the past 50(ish) years, I've seen this spot several times. It always looks the same (that is a good thing). I've only seen mention of it a few times on the internet and each time it was called something different.  As I'm sure you've noticed in the past, I never tell you exactly where these places are located.  

This spot is out there somewhere. Maybe... *

You can tell by my wife's attire, it wasn't spring, summer, or fall, when we were last there. The water my wife is standing by is frozen solid and is about 6 to 10 inches deep.  All she's missing is ice skates.

As if it wasn't cold enough on the ground, we had to climb a little bit to get to the this small alcove. It wasn't much of a climb at all, but it was up in the freezing and biting wind.

The alcove containing the pictographs.

Near the small pictograph site and well above ground level, there is a single large mortero (mortar). Nobody really knows if this particular mortar was used for food preparation, or if it has some ceremonial significance. Based on the small number of designs in the alcove, This was possibly a Shaman's spot, but it doesn't look to have been used for very long. Who knows? I sure don't. (that is ice in the mortar).

The main pictograph panel in the alcove.

Same photo enhanced by DStretch.

A closer view of the same designs.  The "stick" figures are probably anthropomorphic (human)

An enhanced version of the photo above it. It appears to be a rake type design, which represents rain. Really hard to tell exactly what it is (or what it looks like), because it has faded so much.
*The first photo may or may not even be the area where the alcove is.



  1. I bet it was cold! I've lived in the desert and nothing is more biting than winter desert wind. It might have many names, but glad you can find the place.

  2. It's amazing to come across the pictographs but the rocks are what take my breath away.

  3. I've only been to Joshua Tree in November, and it was chilly at night.
    Great pictures.

  4. i like how you respect these sites so much!

  5. Such amazing rocks and drawings too!

  6. I agree with your thoughts on not sharing the location, it would be a shame to see these damaged. As I have mentioned in the past, I find these fascinating and enjoy looking at your photos of them

  7. Wonderful captures of a beautiful, mysterious place, Pat!! I always look forward to the trips you take us on!! Thanks for sharing! Hope your week is off to a great start!!

  8. Oh yes Pat, I have noticed that you don't tell us exactly where those places are. And that's a good thing. I like knowing there are some places that not just anybody can access. (Even though I am "just anybody" myself... of course I'd never be able to do that hike even if I had in on my GPS.) Thanks for sharing the pictures of these remarkable spots ...

  9. Pat, You have probably done more pictograph/petroglyph searching than anyone... You should consider publishing a book with all of your different info and photos... That would be awesome --and SO interesting.


  10. One of these days I will follow in your footsteps. Great pictures. The best thing about going when it is cold is that there are no snakes!

  11. We're starting to explore a bit again!

    I love the places you go.

    They are places we would go!

    And we will!

    Thanks for letting me tag along!

  12. You always find the most interesting places to explore. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  13. Magnificent shots. Joshua Tree is definitely on my list of places to see for myself someday.

  14. A beautiful place, wherever it is :) The desert can get cold even in the summer, so in the winter I can understand the long coats.

  15. Alex J. Cavanaugh - I believe it was mid-twenties that day. No problem finding this spot, cold or hot!

    Lucy Corrander - I'm right there with you, but they are pretty much equal to me.

    Should Fish More - Thanks so much! November is a great time to go. The snakes aren't very active and there are less people there.

    TexWisGirl - Thanks Theresa! I love history anyway and to get this close to amazing things that the vast majority of people will never see, gives me the chills.

    Brian - They sure are! Love them both.

  16. Wayne - Thanks so much Wayne. I won't do it, but I think the NPS should let some of them be seen. Even if it's through a fence or something like that.

    Sylvia - Thanks Sylvia! Many more trips to come! My week is going well, but we've been home for about 4 weeks and I've got cabin fever.

    Sallie FTL - My pleasure Sallie! The remoteness of some of these places is a big part of the draw for me.

    Betsy - Thanks Betsy! As far as doing more searching than anyone else. I wish it was true, but I'm not even close. A friend that I've mentioned here before, "Death Valley Jim" CLEARLY has that title sewed up. There are also others who spend a lot of time out there.

    #1Nana - I hope you do! I KNOW you'd appreciate seeing this stuff in person. In fact, you have the perfect RV for this area.

  17. Jenny - I'm so glad to hear that you are getting back out there. You are right about the places, because I also love the places you go. Like spending the night in that caboose.
    You are most welcome and thanks for tagging along!

    Kay - Thanks Kay! I REALLY need to get up to your area and explore. When we do plan a trip there, I'll let you know and maybe you and Hiker can show us around a bit, or point us in the right direction.

    William Kendall - Thanks so much! It is well worth the time and effort.

    Al - That's funny! You are so right about the weather.

  18. I fine discovered, your pictures are great. Again, you prepared a very nice article! I would like to visit this place someday!

  19. Yes, wonderful photos, I really like this desert landscape to meditate delicious!

  20. You do find many interesting things and places to share! 6-10 inches of solid ice must be so cold!

  21. I like the pinkish color to the rock in the photo with your wife. I've never seen water frozen - and "running" downstream - like that. It's very cool. Hopefully, not too cool for you. Glad to see she had layers.

    Thanks, Pat. xo

  22. Cezar and Leia - Thank you so much Leia! I hope you can visit there someday.

    Leovi - Thanks Leovi! It is beautiful.

    DEZMOND - Yes, they are very pretty. Especially so, in first or last light.

    Icy BC - Yes it was cold, but it's a relative term. I know it gets MUCH colder where you are.

    Robyn - It's not running Robyn, it's in depression in the rock worn by erosion. Still cold though.

  23. I love how you try to always do your part to preserve these areas. :) Just looking at the pictures made me cold. Yay for layers!! Thanks for sharing the beauty of the places you find. :)

  24. Good that this hasn't been defaced in any way.

    Joshua Tree has been one of those places I've been wanting to go but have yet to have made it other than passing from a distance. So near yet so far away.

    A Faraway View

  25. I never fail to be fascinated at your pictures and often find myself staring at them, lost in thought about times past and people long gone. Just to let you know, I will be closing my blog for a bit to catch up on some projects. I will be checking in on my favorite blogs from time to time, so I'll certainly be back here!

  26. I wonder if the stick figure on the left isn't the father, the one on the right the mother, and to the right of her, the child.

  27. Great pictures - I was reading some stuff at work this week about images being found on the Angkor Wat with the use of digital enhancement technology. The products looked similar to your images here.

    Thanks for the many comments!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  28. Wonderful photos today. I have been there. It is beautiful. There was news about Joshua park last night on TV about the dying of the many trees due to climate change and how the trees are self seeding to higher and cooler climates. Interesting. Thanks for the posting - beautiful. Jack

  29. Baby Sister - My pleasure Amanda! Thanks right back at you. I want them preserved because I want my grand kids to be able to show their grand kids and so on.

    Arlee Bird - I have several places like that also. Someday...
    I was lucky to get introduced to JT at a young age.

    Shelly - Thanks so much Shelly! Do what you gotta do and I'll be looking forward to your visits.

  30. Interesting that these sites have so much color...our pictographs are out in the elements and have no color whatsoever...

  31. First off, WHAT THE HECK? The last comments I replied to, shows me as Anonymous!

    The Chieftess - Hi Kathryn! That is one reason why pictographs were usually done in protected, or semi-protected areas. Most of the exposed rock art sites up there are petroglyphs, right?

  32. Oh, I do love visiting your blog every week. I've always dreamt of visiting places like this but I'm not surprised you'd like to keep the exact locations secret. It seems like it must be quite magical up there. I love your photos even if they may or may not depict the exact spot!

  33. What a cool rock formation. I envy all your adventures. I hope to get a few in this summer.

  34. Mandy Southgate - Thanks so much for the nice words. I really do appreciate them. It is very magical around these areas. Some of them can be found, but it takes a lot of internet research.

    M Pax - Thanks Mary! I hope you do work in some adventures. There is no shortage of things to see in the western part of the country.

  35. It's a lovely spot! Can't believe that no one else has come across those cave paintings...

  36. You so have a book in you. The material you are compiling is fascinating and so well researched and represented. Can't get enough!

  37. ladyfi - It is a lovely spot! There are other people who know where this spot is. The group is pretty small though. There are no trails (established, or social) to most of these spots.

    Stickup Artist - Thanks so much! I'm really glad that you like my posts. I can't even imagine doing a book on this stuff. I have a couple others started, but not sure if I'll ever finish them. Being as A.D.D. as I am, does not lend itself to completed projects like that. Speaking of books. You are one of my favorite photographers and I'd buy photo books by you in an instant.

  38. Catching up with your blog. You have mentioned several times the D-stretch - is that connected to s certain program, or camera?
    I can imagine, when there's a freezing wind in the desert, it must really be cold!

  39. jeannettestgermain - DStretch was developed by an awesome guy named Jon Harman. It is an applet for a JPL program called ImageJ. ImageJ is an image processing and analysis program. NASA uses it to enhance images received from the Mars Rover. I've recently started on some tutorials developed by another great guy named Daren Sefcik. It is very complicated and both of these guys do their best to dumb down their language so even people like me can understand it. Sort of...

  40. Must be freezing there! That ice looks like water. Demonstrates your dedication.
    Looks like a great spot. Love that first shot too.

    Fascinating mate.


  41. You find the most amazing stone art. Fascinating stone structures - I seem to see the effect of both water and ice.

  42. Anthony J. Langford - It was somewhere around 25 degrees. Thanks so much!

    RuneE - Thanks! All of these great shapes are created by erosion. Water, ice, wind, etc. It actually snows here.


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