Crystal Wash Rock Art Site (Summary Page)

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This page last updated on 10/11/2017

Introduction: As I began to discover more and more rock art sites during my hikes over these past several years, I have become witness to far too many examples of where persons had seemed fit to deface them with graffiti and other examples of damage. Eventually I realized that the sharing of my hiking adventures could have the potential to increase public exposure, and thereby increasing the possibility for even more damage. As a result, I decided to preface each of my rock art pages with the following information to help educate visitors about the importance of these fragile cultural resources. Before scrolling down, I implore you to READ the following ... as well as the linked page providing guidelines for preserving rock art.

Here are a few simple guidelines you can follow that will help to preserve these unique and fragile cultural resources that are part of our heritage. Guidelines for Preserving Rock Art. If you would like to learn more about the Nevada Site Stewardship Program, go to my page ... Nevada Site Stewardship Program (NSSP).
MAP-Crystal Rock Rock Art Site-1
(Fig. 01)
Directions: There are two entrances the Crystal Wash Rock Art sites. Access to the lower Entrance Site (lower left on (Fig. 01) is 3.7 miles from the intersection of State Route 375, State Route 318 and U.S. Route 93 (the "Y"). Traveling east on U.S. Route 93, towards Caliente, it’s on the left (north) side of the road just past the 54 mile road marker. There is a BLM marker just to the left of the barbwire gate. Go through the gate and continue about 50 yards to the register. Here there are 5-6 boulders containing petroglyphs along this wash route, however, the majority of glyphs are at the Crystal Wash Rock Art - Main Site area, designated by the “square” in (upper middle of Fig. 01). The easiest way to get to the main area is to go 0.2 miles further on Highway 93, and again turn left onto an unmarked dirt road. This entrance is at a pullout with white trash can with orange netting behind it, and there is a yellow BLM marker just to the left of the gate. Go through the gate, veer left (not right) and at the next “Y” bear right and continue for about 0.6 miles to the register and parking area (upper right of Fig. 01).
Crystal Wash Site2
(Fig. 02)
(Fig. 03)
MAP-Crystal Rock Rock Art Site
(Fig. 04)
Area/Site Description: The Crystal Wash Rock Art Site is a desert area filled with many desert varnished boulders (Fig. 03) that are partially surrounded by the sandy Crystal Wash that runs through the middle of the Hiko Mountain Range, on the east side of the range (Fig. 02). A close-up of the satellite view in (Fig. 04), shows just how rocky this area is. Most of the rock art panels found here contain elements that appear to be non-representational, although they probably had a specific meaning to those who created them. There are some panels and elements that contain clearly recognizable images, such as zoomorphs with quadrupeds and anthropomorphs of human figures.When approaching the sites from either end, the quite sandy wash is surrounded by hundreds of volcanic tuff boulders, the result of a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. Entering from the lower site’s inference road, about 450 yards northeast up the wash from the sign-in register, there are six panels that are sporadically placed in and around the wash. Since the rock art found here is easily accessible, this would have been a public site. Their placement suggests a possible travel route, with the rock art providing information along the way. Although the occasional lithic flakes found in the wash indicate that some stone tools were made here, along with the fact that there are a couple of boulders that may have provided shelter for short term stays, there is also nothing to suggest this was a habitation site. There is however, in the rocks above the wash at the Crystal Wash Main Rock Art Site located north of this location, indicates that ancient people stayed in the area for long periods of time. The size of the main site is large enough to have accommodated a village of several small families, most probably living there during the winter months. Archaeological findings consisting of ceramic sherds, projectile points, four hearths, several cupules and some cobblestone alignments have been found on the site. Receiving water from the snow melt coming off the surrounding hills, coupled with its large boulders, it offered suitable protection against the wind, making it climatically more desirable than the lower valleys which were colder during the winter months.
Rock Art Description:  The dominant rock art found at Crystal Wash are Petroglyphs that are etched onto rock faces by pecking, abrading, scratching, or a combination or these techniques. There is one example of pictographs (painted rock art) and one example of cupules (pit and groove rock art). Note: Cupules are thought to be the oldest form of rock art, first appearing in parts of the Great Basin 7000 years ago. The predominant style of rock art found at the Crystal Wash is classified at the Great Basin Pecked Style which includes the sub styles of Great Basin Representational, Great Basin Curvilinear Abstract, and Great Basin Rectilinear Abstract.
Visit Trip Notes: Over the past couple of years I have visited the Crystal Wash Rock Art site on three occasions. Because each of the petrograph site areas here are approachable from opposite ends, I have decided to describe and show pictures of the petroglyphs found in each area on separate pages. Click the following links to learn about each of these areas …

Click here for pictures and description of the “Main site” … Crystal Wash Rock Art - Main Site.

Click here for pictures and description of the "Entrance site" ... Crystal Wash Rock Art - Entrance Site

The slideshow below is designed to run automatically in place. Place the cursor anywhere on the picture being shown to bring up the Pause, Forward and Back menu at the bottom of the slideshow window, allowing you to start, stop or manually forward pictures one at a time.

To view the slideshow full-screen, click in the middle of the running show. When the new browser window appears, click on the "Full screen" button on the left side of the menu bar.

When the full screen window appears, use the menu bar to play and control the slide show.

Slideshow Description:
The slideshow above contains 52 pictures that were taken while hiking this petroglyph site.


Reference Materials:

Manuscript written by Kenneth C. Clarke