Barstow Field Office

Black Mountain Rock Art District

                                                                       Petroglyphs at Inscription Canyon (northwest of Barstow)

Petroglyphs at Inscription CanyonLocated between Superior and Water Valleys, northwest of Barstow, California, the Black Mountain Rock Art District contains an extensive concentration of petroglyphs. These "rock art"engravings were put here by Native Americans over the past 12,000 years using stone tools. Other images, called pictographs, were made by applying mineral substances to the rock surface. Pictographs are relatively rare compared to an estimated 12,000 petroglyphs in the District sites.

Inscription Canyon has the highest concentration of petroglyphs in the Black Mountain Rock Art District. They number more than 1,000 and contain drawings of circles, rays, zigzag, wavy lines and other figures. One of the more common is a circle with a line drawn through it from top to bottom. Some petroglyphs contain images of bighorn sheep, deer, reptiles, birds, insects, plants and trees. Others represent stick and solid body images of humanlike figures along with various baskets, masks, shields and "hand-shape" designs.

Petroglyphs are found here due to the presence of lava rock and minerals suitable for "rock art" activities. Deposits of quartz and other very hard minerals made this a popular area for making stone tools and engraving instruments. The Black Mountain Rock Art District has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and is protected by federal law against vandalism and the removal of artifacts.