Grapevine Canyon Petroglyphs
at Spirit Mountain
Laughlin, NV – April 21st, 2011
If you’re looking for an inexpensive weekend get-away, consider Laughlin, NV. There’s something for everyone in Laughlin. Located along the Colorado River, Laughlin offers all types of water activities including camping, boating, jet skiing, fishing, etc. The casinos that line the river offer live entertainment and casino gaming. There are several points of interest in the area that make fun half day trips including the town of Oatman and the Grapevine Canyon petroglyphs.
On a recent trip to Laughlin I decided to take my dog Hercules. I adopted him about 6 months ago after his owner passed away. His original owner found him when he was a puppy, wandering around in the desert near Indio, CA. He is a very lucky dog!
It was Hercules’ first time to Laughlin. I felt encouraged to bring him along when I discovered Harrah’s has a PetStay program and is a dog-friendly casino. Harrah’s provides water and food bowls for pets, a mat for the bowls and dog treats. At check in they provided me with a map of the dog walk areas and a dog relief area which is a small fenced space with a fire hydrant inside. The rates in the PetStay rooms are higher than the other rates, but it’s worth it. The PetStay rooms are on a floor in the Central Tower where other pets are staying. The tower has easy access to the dog walk areas and a small parking lot nearby where there are other walking areas. The room very clean and comfortable.
We arrived on a Wednesday afternoon and the weather was perfect. It was a little windy, but the sun was shining and it wasn’t too hot. Harrah’s is located right on the edge of the Colorado River and has a nice beach area and two swimming pools (one for adults and one for families). This makes it a great location for guests who want to take advantage of the outdoor activities, which is what I planned to do.
Grapevine Canyon Petroglyphs
My first half day trip was a morning hike into Grapevine Canyon. Grapevine Canyon is located south of Spirit Mountain, which is a designated wilderness area in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It is about 15 minutes by car from Harrah’s. Spirit Mountain and the surrounding canyons are considered sacred grounds of the Yuman tribes including the Mohave, Hualapai, Yavpai, Havasupai, Quechan, Paipai and Maricopa. The main attractions along the Grapevine Canyon trail are the petroglyphs, rock drawings created by Prehistoric Indians.
The petroglyphs are a short distance (about 1/4 mile) from the trailhead. We chose to walk through the wash to arrive at the canyon entrance, but you can also follow a trail along the ridge. There were several types of wildflowers blooming in the wash, monkey flowers, chia, lupine, brittle bush and several other types I was not able to identify. As I was taking photos of the wildflowers a big turkey vulture circled above us. We were able to get some great shots of this spectacular bird … what a wing span!
When we arrived at the boulders and rocky slopes that flank each side of the entrance to the canyon we could see the rock drawing towering above us. I used a 200 lens to take shots of the rock art. One rock showed drawings of big horn sheep, but the other symbols were not as easy to understand or identify. Researchers date the drawings to be between 150 – 200 years old, but some art may be as old as 800 years. The Lake Mead National Recreation Area website warns … do not deface or touch the petroglyphs. They also instruct hikers not to climb on the rocks with petroglyph art panels. Climbing or touching the petroglyphs can damage the art.
As we entered the canyon I was surprised to see a natural spring coming out of the ground. Hercules was very excited to check out the water. He loves to swim and he didn’t waste any time finding a shallow pool to cool off in.
Most of the rock art is near the mouth of the canyon, and we didn’t hike much further. Hikers that passed by said that there is a waterfall higher up in the canyon. The longer hike is moderate and requires some climbing over rocks and boulders.
After spending some time looking at the drawings and enjoying the natural spring, we headed back along the ridge trail. There were nice views in all directions and it was all down hill along the route to the parking area. I climbed up a slope near the trailhead to take photos of the prickly pear cactus that was just starting to bloom. The bright pink blossoms were hard to miss in contrast to the desert landscape that surrounded them.
It was time to pack up and head back to Harrah’s for lunch. Hercules seemed to enjoy the hike and was ready for a nap!
Dogs are allowed in the Lake Mead National Recreational Area, but must be kept on a leash (not to exceed a length of 6 feet). Never leave dogs in the car as temperatures can reach 130 F. Pick up after your pet and don’t leave any trash along the trail. There is a bathroom, and trash cans can be found in the parking lot at the entrance to the trail.
How to get there
Grapevine Canyon is accessible from the Christmas Tree Pass Road, located off State Highway 163, six miles west of Davis Dam at mile marker 13. Turn right onto the dirt road. Two miles from the highway, a short spur road to the left leads into the parking area for Grapevine Canyon. Remember to carry plenty of water. Be sure to remove all your trash from the area. Remember this is a sacred area, take only pictures and memories, leave only footprints – on the trail! Source: www.nps.gov