is located near the center of the Valley of Fire. Petroglyph canyon is about .75 miles long and ends at the
"Mouse's Tank". These photos were taken in and around the immediate area of Petroglyph Canyon.
This concentration of petroglyphs is the second major area with petroglyphs
that is open to the public in the Valley Of Fire. The hike to the Mouse's Tank
is not difficult and does not have any significant grades, and the trail is well
The only difficulty you will encounter here might be the heat and the
sand. You should not find yourself here in the summer months during the middle
of the day with out water and proper clothing. It is usually over 100 degrees
and even a limited time in the sun can be difficult.
The walk to the Mouse's Tank
takes enough time and the occasional deep sand in the path makes it just exerting enough for
each person to require at least some water depending on
the size of the person. This applies to the
months of June, July, August and sometimes late May and early September.
The trek to the Mouse's Tank is not really the object of the hike because the
petroglyphs along the sides of this small, twisty canyon are easy to see and
sufficiently mystifying even for savvy petroglyph hunters.
What the visitor will find throughout Petroglyph Canyon are
isolated images and groups of images that are called panels. In
many places the single images and panels seem to be eroded. This
is unfortunate but the soft sandstone is more easily eroded than
many other types of stone such as granite or basalt. Almost all
of the images are pecked or abraded on surfaces that are
patinated. The patina on the surfaces of the sandstone generally
consists of metal oxides such as manganese.
The only way known to date petroglyphs is relatively. The
petroglyphs that are not repatinated or relatively less
repatinated should logically be closer in time to the present
than the images that have more, or a greater degree of
repatination. But this idea comes with a caveat, sometimes the
conditions on and surrounding the images may be more susceptible
to repatination. This generalizing about this process and
concept tricky. However, this does not really impact the notion
of relative age if the surface in question, such as the one
depicted above, is relatively similar across the area where the
images are, and if the images with different levels of
repatination are close together.
All that being said, there are quite a few places where
different levels of repatination in the petroglyph panels occur.
Although some scientists have attempted to measure, there are
some many local variables that the rate of repatination is not
really known and once the rate is estimated (and that is all
that can really be done), that rate maybe different in another
Why does this matter? Petroglyphs are among the few artifacts
that cannot be accurately or even generally dated. This is
problematic for archaeologists who have sometimes tried to date
and associate petroglyphs by style instead. Using style as a
method to date or associate groups of petroglyphs presents an entirely
different set of problems. Although style has long been a topic
of discussion and controversy among archaeologists, the bottom
line is that style is to at least some degree subjective.
Sometimes the discussions on style simply boil down to something
like this, "... I can't exactly define it but I know it
when I see it." With that in mind petroglyphs do appear to
have regional styles where different aspects of the images have
a consistency and these consistent features are different than
the elements or aspects of petroglyphs in other areas.
Click on any of the links below to see petroglyphs, panels, images and canyon
walls. Please note that the photos are large and may take up to seconds