Once you have found the parking spot in the wash, next to the BLM boundary fence, it's easy enough to walk up Picture Canyon. This fence also marks the state line. You will be parking in Nevada, and hiking in California.
This canyon, as you can see from the topo map, passes all the way through the Dead Mountains. Although it is a designated wilderness, you will find tracks from four-wheelers in the canyon. These tracks also constitute your trail, although you may find the going is quite a bit easier if you walk off to the side where the ground is a bit harder, instead of in the wheel tracks, which are soft sand.
About 2 miles from where you parked, if you are very sharp-eyed, you may find a couple of petroglyphs. Further on, a little less than three miles in, there are many nice panels of rock art. A lot of them are up very high on the sides of the canyon. Some hikers may want to climb up, but most people will be content to view from below. Other hikers have also reported pictographs. Pictographs are PAINTED onto the rock, whereas petroglyphs are PECKED or chipped, into the rock.
The seasonal recommendation is important in the Mojave Desert. It is not recommended to enter this area during the hot season. This is one of the hottest areas in North America, and can easily reach 120 degrees in mid-summer.
Do not touch any type of rock art because the oils from your fingers can damage it. It is a felony to deface rock art, and also it is illegal to add "art" of your own.
Like most sites of this type, it is likely not possible to date the petroglyphs. They appear to have been made over a period of many years. They are made by chipping or pecking the rock, sometimes using another rock or a fire-hardened antler tip. It was a time-consuming project to make each one. If you have viewed many petroglyphs throughout the West, you will often notice similarities.
Animals and birds known to this area include bighorn sheep, red-tailed hawks, and prairie falcons.
The area has historical as well as archaeological significance. Jedediah Smith crossed the Mojave Desert in 1826 and 1827. On both trips he visited the Mojave Indian villages along the Colorado River, and then turned west to cross the desert to the Spanish-held part of California. On his second expedition 10 of his men were killed by the Mojave Indians. There is some information here quoted from Smith's journal.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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