Virtual Rock Art Gallery PDF Print

Watch the Exploring Nevada video Rock ArtRock art is found throughout the world, and Nevada's rock art is as beautiful and varied as is found anywhere. There are both petroglyphs (engraved) and pictographs (painted) found in the state, in an astonishing variety of styles and settings. Some of the imagery is identifiable (such as animals or humans), but others are more ambiguous. Although it is not possible to "read" the images, further research may help to understand the relationships between the rock art and the other activities which took place where it is found.

Rock art has only recently become the focus of scientific research, but for hundreds of years, American rock art has sparked speculation and interest. This intriguing cultural resource is a part of the heritage of all Americans, but was created in most cases long before the arrival of Europeans-although some imagery is obviously historic. Several methods of dating rock art have been developed and soon it may be possible to relate rock art to other activities during the same time periods.

Rock Art Sites Some rock art sites on public lands are open to visitation, such as those pictured here, and some even offer interpretive trails. In the western part of the state, Grimes Point may be among the oldest rock art sites in Nevada. It is located on the shore of ancient Lake Lahonton and the rock art may have been created as long as 10,000 years ago.
Petroglyphs in the Valley of Fire In southern Nevada in the Valley of Fire there is a large concentration of rock art. The beautiful sandstone formations develop a dark coating through time, called patina, and the images were engraved through that coating into the lighter material below.
Petroglyphs in the White River Narrows Equally beautiful, but with a much less striking contrast, are images carved into lighter colored rock, such as those found in the White River Narrows, in eastern Nevada.




Vandalized Petroglyphs Much of Nevada's rock art is slowly disappearing through the natural processes of weathering and exfoliation, but some is being more rapidly destroyed by senseless vandalism. Such acts are not only a federal offense (punishable by both fines and imprisonment), but are insulting to Native Americans who often consider rock art to be of spiritual significance. It also destroys a unique and irreplaceable part of the history and heritage of all Americans. Please help protect all prehistoric resources by following these simple rules:
  • DO: Visit and enjoy sites that are open to public visitation.
  • DO: Take photographs, make sketches and think about life in the past.
  • DO: Report any evidence of vandalism to the relevant officials.
  • DO NOT: Make "rubbings", "chalk" petroglyphs or pictographs to enhance photographs or otherwise touch rock art and NEVER remove or disturb any cultural materials.

For further information about rock art in Nevada and elsewhere, visit your local library, contact the local land management agency or go to any of these other websites and the many links that they provide: