Short vocabulary lesson:
Pictographs--designs painted on rock by ancient peoples
Petroglyphs--designs carved or pecked into rock
Recently, it was my good fortune to tag along on one of Red Rock Ranch's Rock Art Hikes. Wow, what a terrific time! Not only does the Ranch have rock art on its own property (a detail of a deer pictograph from the 1400s, right), but they also have exclusive permission to take visitors to one of the Southwest's largest and oldest collections of petroglyphs just 20 minutes from Van Horn. I was shown petroglyphs of human, animal and plant forms, as well as geometrics and calendaring systems, made as far back as 2,500 years ago.
I most enjoyed seeing how the artists used the bumps and fissures in the rocks to accentuate their drawings. The deer's eye (above) is easy to see because of a protrusion in the rock, and the jawline is partially defined by a ridge on the surface.
The hikes were easy and gentle, and seeing the designs made by people centuries ago was a powerful experience.
For more information, contact Red Rock Ranch Tours in Van Horn.