7,000 Year Old Rock Art… And Wile-e-Coyote

Are these vacant eyes staring at you from the ancient past? Probably not since these two 7,000 year old pecked indentations are merely two out of many that cover a rock at the Grimes Point Archeological Area.

I took a detour on my trip down Highway 395 from Reno to Mt. Whitney last summer to drive east on Highway 50 to the town of Fallon, Nevada. I was excited to visit the Grimes Point Archeological Area with its ancient rock art five miles east of the town. They represent some of the oldest petroglyphs in America. The oldest are located approximately 60 miles away at Pyramid Lake.

This sign greeted me at the entrance to the site. The strange lines on the left represent one of the petroglyphs found at the site.
Highway 50 stretching off into the east from Grimes Point across Nevada claims to be the loneliest road in the US. The grooves you see on the right are to wake up motorists who fall asleep while driving the road.
The circles and wavy lines represent some of the oldest petroglyphs found at the site. Rock art is made by using a rock to peck away the dark, desert varnish that covers rocks exposing the lighter colors underneath. You’ve seen many examples on my posts over the last three weeks. These petroglyphs are almost the color of the rock, which means that the desert varnish has had time to cover the rock art, literally thousands of years.
This is another example of pits, this time with grooves connecting them. It almost appears to be horns on a steer-like head, but who knows.
One of the pit covered rocks. Peggy and I found similar petroglyphs on the Big Island of Hawaii. Information at that site said that the pits had been used to place umbilical cords in.
This is what the countryside looks like at Grimes Point. A pickup hauling a trailer can be seen on Highway 50. Having ridden my bike across Nevada on my 10,000 mile bicycle trek and driven across the state numerous times, I can attest to its lonely, wide-open spaces. No problem with social-distancing out here!
Lichens added some fun color to the rocks.
There were some discernible figures such as this leaping or dancing stick figure. Is it “Come to me sweetie,” or “Gads, look at the size of that snake!”
I wonder if this asterisk-like petroglyph represents the sun.
Those with an overactive imagination might see a UFO landing!
The most mysterious to me was this horse-like figure. Horses went extinct in North America around 11,000 BCE and weren’t reintroduced until the 1500s CE. Petroglyphs at nearby Pyramid Lake date back to 10,000-14,000 BCE, however, so horses could have been around then. Maybe we are looking at a dog, coyote or wolf. Or maybe none-of-the-above.
Here we have a much more recent petroglyph from Canyon de Chelly showing Navajo hunters in pursuit of a deer. Note how light the petroglyphs are in comparison to Grimes Point.
I’ll close my coverage of Grimes Point with another pit covered rock. We can only wonder why.

I’ve enjoyed sharing petroglyphs with you. I can guarantee there will be more if for no other reason than the fact that Peggy and I enjoy them and are always searching for new sites. There are thousands throughout the Western United States. I can’t resist a few more from the Petrified Wood National Park and Canyon de Chelly National Monument.

This interesting collection of petroglyphs is from Canyon de Chelly. Check out the top. You’ve heard of having your ducks in a row? So, apparently, did the early Americans…
But how about having your turkeys in a row? These are pictographs at Canyon de Chelly, painted instead of pecked. The figure on the far right is Kokopelli playing his flute.
The ‘newspaper rock’ in Petrified Wood National Park is one of my favorites. Check out the figure to the right of the nudes. Could it be? Is it possible…
Yes! It’s Wile-e-Coyote! That does it for the day. Grin.

NEXT POST: I’ll take you on a visit to Crater Lake National Park.

17 thoughts on “7,000 Year Old Rock Art… And Wile-e-Coyote

  1. Curt, you do travel and walk places. Places of natural beauty and
    filled with history. I always feel, ” I would love to see this”

    Highway 50 does look lonely, are there anywhere to stop, I guess you need
    petrol ( gas) at times.
    It is amazing that you can walk around and see writing and art from 7000 years ago. Do you sense the history in the area?

    By the way, I really like the stone with the colourful lichen. 😊


    • No doubt about it, Miriam, there is great beauty, mystery, and interesting history in the world, all about us actually, and Peggy and I enjoy exploring and sharing.
      The gas stations are few and far between. 🙂 I become a little paranoid about making sure to fill up when my gas tank drops down around the halfway point. Now, think of bicycling 60-80 miles between water and food stops.
      I certainly sense the history, like I have traveled back into ancient times. And there is also a sense of the sacred, like walking into a cathedral.
      Glad you enjoyed the lichens. They really added a dash of color! Thanks. –Curt

  2. We have been across 50 a couple times but were unaware of Grimes Point.
    I once asked a park ranger why the desert varnish did not obliterate the marks. She replied that, as you said, it takes thousands of years to form. From that, I am guessing that as you also said, these are older than most we have ever seen.
    Could the rock that was so pitted have been caused by gas bubbles or bubbles of soft stone when the rock was originally formed? Or was it one of a kind in that particular area?

  3. I drove the whole of Highway 50 once upon a time, and it was one of the most memorable trips I’ve taken, thanks to a young Native American woman and her pony. I may have told you about her. She was astride the horse, atop a small butte, impassively watching me pass by. I still get a slight shiver thinking about the experience.

    • I don’t remember the story of the Native American woman, Linda, but it creates a strong, immediate vision of a passing age.
      Highway 50 always takes me back to my childhood since I lived two miles away from it. 50 and Highway 49, were our go-to highways. 50 would take us east and west; 49 would take us north and south. The other roads were all local. You may recall that I spent my summers during college driving a laundry truck six days a week from Placerville to Lake Tahoe following 50 across the Sierras. It was a ideal job and paid for my college education. –Curt

    • Simply over the mountain and through the desert, Kelly. And it is the epitome of social/physical distancing. 🙂 I am equally interested in exploring the petroglyphs at Pyramid Lake given that they are the oldest in North American and the photographs of them seem very interesting. I’m not sure of how accessible they are in terms of location and the fact that they are on Native American land, but I will figure that out next time I am in the area. –Curt

      • I just have to say, I’ve only been mildly interested in petroglyphs … until your posts about them. Thanks for sparking my interest in these mysterious works of art that have lasted for centuries, even millennia. They really are remarkable. And those indentations in the rock are SO thought provoking!

      • Another world, Kelly. And here’s another point. I always feel like searching for them is like going on a treasure hunt! Glad you’ve enjoyed them. Thanks. –Curt

  4. I don’t have quite your passion for rock art, but some of them can be very interesting. This is what I find most interesting – rock art around the world all show something that looks like space craft and aliens. There’s something wrong with my grammar here but you know what I mean 🙂

  5. Wonderful petroglyphs. I especially like the ones in Canyon de Chelly. Kokopelli as the pied piper! And the one with the ducks… evidently a lot was happening in the news that day!

    • Adding interpretations is always interesting for me, Arati. Usually I make a serious effort and base my interpretations on work done by experts but sometimes I just can’t resist having fun. –Curt

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