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2021 - Trip Reports - Graffiti Trip

Graffiti Trip

By Lindsay Woods

No, we weren’t going to drive around town looking for graffiti nor were we heading out to graffiti local landmarks but rather to check out some graffiti from years past in the Black Mountains area outside Hinkley, California. We headed North on 1-15 to Highway 58 and exited Hinkley Road and the adventure began when our tires left the pavement and hit the dirt. There is more than one location in this area where petroglyphs can be viewed.

At our first stop we were able to locate one marking on the outcropping of rocks. Soon we were driving through a wash with the dark, volcanic looking rock walls on each side of us. When we stopped, we were able to explore the area and find a number of petroglyphs and graffiti from 1938 to as recent as 2020. While I hated to see some of the newer carvings, I began to contemplate what these newer carvings would communicate to future explorers. Don’t get me wrong I am in no way condoning these actions, but found it worth pondering. There was even a couple of carvings related to COVID-19.

On the way to our final destination Inscription Canyon, we stopped at a number of other sites of interest. While driving we saw a rock stack structure that was about 3 feet tall, 8 feet wide, and 20 feet long which we surmised was some type of holding pen for animals. Next, we came across the old stage coach stop site where the watering trough and well can still be seen.

A short distance further we came across what I would presume to be a dugout miners’ cabin which was cut into a small mound. The dugout appeared to have a thin concrete floor and plaster skimmed walls and ceiling. I would estimate the room to be around 200 square feet. I read somewhere online that miners were in the area in the early 1900’s. They were mining high end opals, one of the operations was actually funded by the Tiffany company. This dugout cabin would have provided a much-needed shelter for its occupants from the weather extremes in the Mojave Desert.

The whole day I had been hearing about the eagle petroglyph which we continued to scan all of the rock hillsides for. Not finding the eagle we pressed on to Inscription Canyon. What an impressive sight, I could have spent the whole day combing this area but after about an hour it was time to get moving. We returned to our hunt for the eagle and after about 20 minutes we were able to finally locate it. With that success we decided to begin heading for home.

We decided to go over the Black Mountain and drop in at the base of Opal Mountain and make our way back to Hinkley Road. On our way out we ran across Sherriff’s personnel on a Polaris Ranger with a litter on the back. We stopped and spoke with them and learned they were doing a body recovery in the area. After a brief visit we started our way back toward Highway 58. Shortly before we hit the pavement, we came across a Coroner unit that was having difficulty locating the recovery team. We were able to assist them with direction to the recovery team’s location.

Our day ended nine hours and 160 miles later. Another great day exploring the desert.   ~ Lindsay