The Ash Springs petroglyph site is located just east of the small town of Ash Springs, approximately 7 miles north of Alamo.

To learn more about the rock art of Ash Springs, a brochure is available from the BLM Caliente Field Office

This webpage and the brochure were produced by NRAF with the assistance of a grant from the Lincoln County Archaeological Initiative.

Ash Springs Petroglyph Site

The Ash Springs Rock Art site is located at the north end of the Pahranagat Valley, on the southern flank of the Hiko Range. The site is close to a hot spring that was an oasis for prehistoric and historic travelers. Traces of the lives of ancient peoples abound in the Pahranagat Valley area, manifested most visibly by prehistoric rock art.

Ash Springs provides an accessible glimpse into the cultural lives of the Native American peoples who lived in the valley for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Euro-American settlers in the mid-nineteenth century. The remains of prehistoric campsites and rock art co-mingle at Ash Springs.

Ash Springs was used by hunter-gatherers from around 6,000 years ago. Early hunter-gatherers came to the region to hunt, gather plants, and make rock art. Ash Springs appears to have been most intensively used as a camp during the last 1,000 years. During the spring and summer, ancient hunter-gatherers lived in small camps of family households, from which they ranged to gather seeds, fruits, berries, nuts, and roots. They hunted large and small game, as well as fished. During the winter, family households congregated with several other households in large campsites or villages and sustained themselves on stored resources.

Ash Springs comprises some 60 petroglyph boulders and the archaeological remains of daily life. Repeated visits to Ash Springs for camping are marked by grinding slicks, small stone flakes, pottery, hearths, and rock alignments. Grinding slicks indicate the harvesting and processing of plants, nuts, and hard seeds. Small stone chips or flakes show that stone tools were made and repaired here. The pottery and the hearths indicate food storage and cooking. The small rock alignments likely were foundations for brush windbreaks or shades.
These archaeological remains suggest that several family households camped and lived at Ash Springs for several weeks at a time. The intermingling of daily life with rock art is found at other sites in the Pahranagat Valley area.

Rock art at Ash Springs is predominantly abstract curvilinear and rectilinear designs, accompanied by stick-figure anthropomorphs and images of animals. This style of rock art is known as Basin and Range tradition and is found widely throughout the Great Basin. Circles, rectangles, and large complex abstract designs that cover entire boulders are common at Ash Springs.

Stick-figure anthropomorphs include many variants that are unique to the site. The most common animals depicted are bighorn sheep, coyotes or dogs, and short wavy lines that resemble snakes. Without the original artists to tell us, the exact meanings and cultural purposes of rock art at Ash Springs can only be speculated on. But it does show us that this place had a cultural significance beyond its use for settlement. The rock art and the Ash Springs area continue today to be important to Native American peoples living in the region.

This webpage and the brochure were produced by NRAF with the assistance of a grant from the Lincoln County Archaeological Initiative.