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Petroglyph Canyon

Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area

Las Vegas + Southern Nevada, Nevada

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Petroglyph Canyon

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  • Looking up at the dry falls along the main wash on Trail 100.- Petroglyph Canyon
  • Hikers search the boulders along the main gallery area for petroglyphs. - Petroglyph Canyon
  • One of the many petroglyph panels found in the main gallery area along Trail 100.- Petroglyph Canyon
  • Views from the main gallery back down to the main wash and trail.- Petroglyph Canyon
  • More views of the main gallery along Trail 100.- Petroglyph Canyon
  • Look but don't touch! Oils from hands can damage petroglyphs over time. Help preserve this wonderfully intact archaeology site.- Petroglyph Canyon
  • Many petroglyphs are carved into dacite boulders in the main gallery. Dacite is an igneous rock that is prominent within Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area.- Petroglyph Canyon
  • More than 300 rock panels are estimated to exist within the main gallery and accessory areas in Petroglyph Canyon.- Petroglyph Canyon
  • Volcanic peaks in the Sloan Canyon NCA arose 13 million years ago from four distinct volcanoes. Petroglyph canyon cuts through the Mount Sutor volcano.- Petroglyph Canyon
  • The wash past the main gallery leads to beautiful vistas to the south of remnant volcanic outcroppings.- Petroglyph Canyon
  • Hikers point out prominent volcanic peaks on the horizon.- Petroglyph Canyon
  • The Sloan National Conservation area is an excellent example of the violent volcanic past in the southern Nevada area.- Petroglyph Canyon
  • Views off toward Hidden Valley near the junction of Trail 100, 200, and 300.- Petroglyph Canyon
  • Archaeologists believe up to 1,700 unique designs are visible within the Petroglyph Canyon area.- Petroglyph Canyon
  • Unique designs can be found throughout the canyon. Search carefully along the hillsides for obscure and hidden petroglyphs.- Petroglyph Canyon
  • - Petroglyph Canyon
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Solitude. Scenic views. Geology. Mojave desert.
Cons: 
Hard to find. No water. No restrooms at the trailhead.
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Region:
Las Vegas + Southern Nevada, NV
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
500.00 ft (152.40 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Fall
Total Distance: 
4.40 mi (7.08 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
2,895.00 ft (882.40 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area boasts roughly 300 distinct rock art panels with a large portion concentrated within Petroglyph Canyon. BLM archaeologists have cataloged up to 1,700 different petroglyph design styles in this area alone. The hike to Petroglyph Canyon begins on Trail 100 in a wide wash that is typical of the Mojave Desert, but it soon gains a canyon feeling as the walls and gradient steepen. The predominant rock type seen in this area is dacite, which is a fine grained igneous (volcanic) rock that ranges in color from grey to black and may take on additional hues depending on the presence of iron oxide. Additionally, the rock may take on a golden sheen due to the oxidizing of a mineral called biotite, which is called “brassy biotite.” The wash continues south to a fork in the canyon, and the split off trail to the west is signed as Trail 200. Following either trail will eventually lead to the main petroglyph gallery, but staying east on Trail 100 is the most scenic way to travel to through the canyons.

Continue through a narrow section that has a few minor scrambles up low angled slabs to gain access to the main petroglyph gallery. Petroglyph panels are scattered amongst the boulders on the hillside, so spend time thoroughly exploring the area to grasp the extent of the artwork; however, be careful to avoid touching the petroglyphs as the oils from skin can damage the rock art panels. After viewing the main area, continuing south on Trail 100 will lead to a junction with Trail 200 and Trail 300. To return to the main parking area for Sloan NCA return north on Trail 200, but for the intrepid trekker, hiking along Trail 300 can add rewards of Bighorn sheep during the spring months on the rocky outcrops of the canyon walls and peaks.

The Petroglyph Canyon Area is a part of the larger Sloan Volcanic Section which is compromised by four 13-million-year-old extinct volcanoes, and Petroglyph Canyon predominantly slices through the Mount Sutor Volcano. Volcanic domes are readily seen in the area, and they are formed from viscous lava pushing up through vents and hardening. Look for vertical banding on the hike into the canyon, which is evidence of where the flow patterns were embedded.

Additionally, the Sloan Canyon area is a fabulous place to view wildflowers in the spring months of March to May, especially after wet years. Beavertail cactus, Brittlebush, Chia, Creosote Bush, Desert Chicory, Desert Trumpet, Fremont Pincushion, Globemallow, Mojave Yucca, Notch Leaf Phacelia, Rosy Two-Tone Beardtounge, Sundrop, Teddy Bear Cholla, White Bursage, and White Desert Primrose are some the main plants that characterize the area. 

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(31 within a 30 mile radius)

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