Red Spring & Calico Basin Petroglyphs (Summary Page)

{Click on an image to enlarge, then use the back button to return to this page}
This page last updated on 10/11/2017


The first two photos were taken on 03/13/2011 on a follow-up visit to Red Springs in the Calico Basin of Red Rock Canyon. It is very difficult to interpret what the symbols in the petroglyph represent. If you have any ideas, email me at

Area Description: Many hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago, native Americans used a symbol-based form of writing. Some of these symbols were used to convey messages to others passing thru at a later time; Some symbols were used to record events important to the tribe's history. The first humans were attracted to the Red Rock area due to its resources of water, plant and animal life that could not be easily found in the surrounding desert. This made the Red Rock Canyon area very attractive to hunters and gatherers such as the historical Southern Paiute and the much older Archaic, or Desert Culture Native Americans. As many as six different Native American cultures may have been present at Red Rock over the millennia. The following chronology is an approximation: Southern Paiute 900 to modern times; Patayan Culture 900 to early historic times in the 1800’s; Anasazi 1 AD to 1150; Pinto/Gypsum (Archaic) 3500 BC to 1 AD; San Dieguito 7000 to 5500 BC; Paleo-Indians (Tule Springs) 11,000 to 8000 BC. Numerous petroglyphs as well as pottery fragments remain today throughout the area. In addition, several roasting pits used by the early Native Americans have provided further evidence of human activity in the past at Red Rock.

Petroglyph Description: These types of symbols fall into two main categories: Pictograph or Petroglyph. Symbols which are painted on a rock are pictographs. Thanks to the desert heat and lack of moisture, many examples of pictographs can still be seen and admired today. Petroglyphs (also called rock engravings) are pictogram and logogram images created by using a small stone to carve or scratch the rock surface by incising, picking, carving, and abrading. Outside North America, scholars often use terms such as "carving", "engraving", or other descriptions of the technique to refer to such images. Petroglyphs are found world-wide, and are often (but not always) associated with prehistoric peoples. The word comes from the Greek words petros meaning "stone" and glyphein meaning "to carve", and was originally coined in French as pÊtroglyphe.

Description: It has been speculated by some that this particular petroglyph is a depiction of a fringed blanket, robe or bag. What does it look like to you? What can be said about this image is that it is located about 70 meters above the valley below, it faces E-SE, is uses a break in the rock to demark a boundary, it was created using a hammer-stone and a pebble type chisel, and it is not part of a 'panel'.


This photo was taken on 03/3/2011 on a visit to Red Springs in the Calico Basin of Red Rock Canyon. Again, it is very difficult to decipher the meaning of the symbols in this petroglyph which was located just outside the fenced walkway on the SW side of the meadow. If you have any ideas, email me at