Frogs or Aliens… Petroglyphs from Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park

Petroglyphs on Atlatl Rock in Valley of Fire State Park, southern Nevada.

I was thinking frogs when I first saw this petroglyph found on Atlatl Rock in Valley of Fire State Park. Now I am thinking aliens about to be beamed up to a flying saucer… (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The Southwestern United States provides numerous opportunities to study petroglyphs left behind by ancient peoples who occupied the region for several thousand years before the arrival of Europeans. Early natives took advantage of desert varnish, a dark film of oxides formed on rocks in areas where rain is rare. Using a stone, artists, or possibly shamans, would peck through the varnish to the lighter rock underneath, leaving behind art or messages whose meaning we can only guess. Peggy and I are fascinated by this rock art and have visited numerous sites in Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico as well as other locations (like Hawaii, for example).

The Valley of Fire State Park has several areas where petroglyphs can be found, including Atlatl Rock, which features a stair structure that allows people an opportunity to climb high up on the cliff for a closer view. While Peggy, Ken and Leslie climbed the stairs, I wandered off to find less tourist-oriented petroglyphs.  I like to think of the search for rock art as a treasure hunt.

An atlatl, BTW, is a device early people used to give a thrown spear more oomph. Plastic tennis ball throwers, designed to give Fido a workout, operate on the same principle. Modern use of atlatls has shown that speeds up to 93 miles per hour can be achieved. If you visit Atlatl Rock on March 19, 2017, you can actually watch the 25th Annual World Atlatl Competition where enthusiasts from around the world will gather to see who can toss a spear the farthest.

Viewing platform on Atlatl Rock at Valley of Fire State Rock in southern Nevada.

The petroglyph viewing platform seen here, is located high up on Atlatl Rock. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Ken and Leslie Lake provide perspective on viewing platform on Atlatl Rock in Valley of Fire State Park.

Our friends Ken and Leslie, standing on the viewing platform, provide perspective. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Petroglyphs on Atlatl Rock in Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas.

A close-up of the petroglyphs provides a view of an atlatl and an atlatl thrower. The Bighorn sheep on top may be the target. Just below is the atlatl, and below that is the feathered spear (slightly crooked). The spear thrower is just beneath that. My ‘aliens’ are on the left. A possible ladder, lighting storm, shaman and trees are also found among the petroglyphs. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Foot petroglyph found on Atlatl Rock in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

I was amused by this atlatl thrower connected by a power line with a sheep and then a foot. What the heck does this mean? (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

While Peggy, Ken and Leslie were exploring Atlatl Rock, I was off wandering around on the other side looking for petroglyphs.

Bighorn Sheep petroglyphs at Valley of Fire State Park.

I found a pair of nose to tail Bighorn Sheep… (Doggy sniff-sniff maybe?)

This whatchamacallit and a spiral… (The spiral may represent a journey from an inner world.)

Petroglyph found near Atlatl Rock in Valley of Fire State Park.

And a woman having a baby. At least that’s what my rock art symbol book tells me.

Peggy and crew joined me to check out these petroglyphs on a cliff that we had discovered on an earlier trip. Apparently the rock artists had used a crack in the rock to climb up to do their work. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Petroglyphs carved into desert varnish on a cliff face near Atlatl Rock in Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas, Nevada.

A closer look…

And closer. Lots of sheep, a shaman, a fat dog, and an atlatl. The circles at the bottom may represent the sun. And can you find the coyote?

Plant in sand near Atlatl Rock in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

I also found this green plant with its weird shadows that contrasted well with the golden sand. Note the animal tracks beside the plant.

And Peggy captured this colorful sandstone cliff with its erosion. No wonder natives might consider the area sacred. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Arch Rock at Valley of Fire State Park in southern Nevada.

Just up the road from Atlatl Rock is this much photographed arch— photographed by Peggy.

Arch Rock photograph by Curtis Mekemson in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

Also took my turn and will conclude this post and my series on Valley of Fire State Park with the results.

The Towering White Domes of Southern Nevada’s Valley of Fire

Sun illuminates White Dome s in southern Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park

I caught the sun hanging over one of the White Domes in the Valley of Fire.

Today I will continue my exploration of the Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas in southern Nevada. There are three primary roads in the park. My last post followed the main road. Today I am going to focus on the route into the area known as the White Domes. The road begins at the Visitors’ Center, which is well worth a stop, and climbs up through colorful rocks known for their ‘rainbow’ colors. It ends at the towering White Domes. I’ll let our photographs ‘do the talking’ today.

Rocks near Visitor's Center at Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas.

Peggy discovered these rocks having a bad hair day at the Visitors’ Center. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Rock sculpture near Visitor's Center at Valley of Fire State Park.

And I snapped a photo of this rock sculpture.

Rainbow Vista in Valley of Fire State Park.

There is a reason why this area is named Rainbow Vista. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Rainbow Vista at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada with mountains providing contrast.

Again, with mountains adding color to the ‘rainbow view.’

Sandstone mountain along road to White Dunes in Valley of Fire State Park.

The road to the White Domes included this impressive mountain of sandstone.

White Domes at Valley of Fire State Park in Southern Nevada.

Our first view of the White Domes. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Squirrel at White Domes in Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas, Nevada.

I found this squirrel at the White Domes. We were eating lunch and he thought he should be invited.

Peggy found this lizard that was more interested in eating bugs.

 

Side of White Domes in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

I like this photo because it provides a perspective on the height of the Domes. Note the person on the right. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Photo of side of White Domes at Valley of Fire State Park.

My shot up the side of the White Dome.

Stone sculpture at White Domes in Valley of Fire State Park.

Several other stone sculptures are found near the White Domes.

White Domes at Valley of State Park in Nevada.

Another of the White Domes.

A trail leads around the White Domes. At this point, it drops into a small canyon.

Rocks along trail leading around White Domes at Valley of Fire State Park in southern Nevada.

A view of the rocks leading down into the small canyon. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Photo of White Domes at Valley of Fire State Park by Curtis Mekemson.

I’ll conclude with this shot I took of the main White Domes sculpture.