GREENWATER CANYON - Part 2
The upper part of Greenwater Canyon contains primarily petroglyphs: symbols carved or "pecked" in flat rock faces that convey some kind of message, the meaning of which is unknown today. Some symbols may have designated family or clan "ownership" of a camp area. Some are seen in conjunction with geographic features such as water holes or springs. Others seem to be associated with animals hunted by these people for food and other uses. We may never decipher of the majority of them and can only surmise their meaning based upon what we know of the lifestyle of the artisans.
Greenwater Canyon also contains symbols in a rare painted form known as "pictographs." Native pigments were used to paint, rather than carve, their messages, usually in a sheltered rock overhang or cave. We have found three such locations within the canyon confines. Further research may uncover other such sites in the surrounding hills.
Although these sites are fairly well-known, their remote hidden location makes access difficult for casual visitors. The Death Valley National Park Wilderness Restoration Project should help to keep these priceless assets well-preserved for a long time to come. The following pictures provide an overview of the pictographs and surrounding features.
This concludes our short pictorial tour of
Greenwater Canyon. Since access is limited to "foot" or "hoof" take plenty of
water and be prepared for a long hike through loose sand and gravel followed by
some rock scrambling. There are many interesting things to see and you might
run across something not seen by previous visitors.
I should mention that on our last trip, we heard something very large and solid scrambling around in an adjacent canyon. Since there are no signs of horses or burros there, we suspect that it may have been a clumsy Desert Bighorn sheep or maybe a lion-sized predator. Thoughts of a desert version of "Bigfoot" crossed our mind, as well.
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