Today was petroglyph day! We hiked around for a few hours to see some of the featured petroglyphs and to find our own.
The area is sacred to the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians and the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe and includes thousands of petroglyphs and traces of human habitation, such as agave roasting pits and shelters dating back over 3,000 – 12,000 years. The rock art in Gold Butte is one the most extensive we have seen in our travels. This art is found throughout the sandstone area of the central Gold Butte Complex. We found “billboard” styles with panels up to 90 feet long, and then the “falling man” which is one solitary petroglyph that looks exactly as it is named.
After hiking up and through a tunnel of rock that required scrambling on hands and knees, we descended around a ledge that has the falling man petroglyph. Nobody is sure exactly why this is here or what it means but we were careful not to become falling man. Newspaper rock is a GIANT slab of rock with an expansive panel of art. Bighorn sheep, a giant tortoise, bulls eyes, rainbows, a bigfoot print and so much more.
21 goats was impressive as well. To get to this panel of art we hiked on further into the desert and down to a wash. I’m not sure what the significance of the line of goats etched into the wall is. I’m pretty sure there were more than 21 too. What story do these tell?
Most people, and by most I mean the 6 or so a day that might come out here, probably turn around here. We kept going out to see the Black Butte dam area. Black Butte dam was built by ranchers decades ago. It used to hold rain water but today it usually just holds sand and grasses. It would be pretty cool to see the area after heavy rainfall. There are endless opportunities for exploration out here and we hiked up and around all the rock formations before heading back.