I stumbled on a really great blog on places in and around Death Valley by a guy named Steve Hall, aptly named “Death Valley Adventures”. His blog is particularly great because there are few maps and/or information on most of the area surrounding Death Valley. It encouraged me to do a little exploring on my own. I decided to drive home from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on the Fourth of July through the Searles Valley, Panamint Valley, Death Valley to Furnace Creek Inn and then on home. These valleys are between the Argus, Slate, and Panamint Ranges which are oriented north-south, or toward the north-northwest. The El Paso Mountains, Spangler Hills, Straw Peak in the Slate Range, and Quail Mountains are oriented east-west, and the Owlshead Mountains are arranged in a semi-circular pattern south of the valleys. Aside from the geology, there are some interesting places to see along this little drive and of course some of our beautiful desert flora. Admittedly it extended the trip home by a few hours but the scenery was worth the lost time.
Since both the Little and Big Petroglyph Canyons are within the bounds of the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, thus limited for photography, I am including photographs of the surrounding area before delving into the petroglyphs. The southern part of the Coso range lies in the restricted Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake and the northern part of the range is designated as the Coso Range Wilderness. To visit Little Petroglyph Canyon, you need to go through the Maturango Museum which is located in Ridgecrest, California. To arrange a guided tour of the Coso Rock Art District located on China Lake Naval Weapons Station, you will need to call the museum to secure a reservation, pay a small fee and go through a written security questionnaire. No photography is allowed on the fairly long trip from the front gate until you reach the parking lot for the canyon. Since I believe you cannot properly appreciate the petroglyphs without the context of the surrounding area and cultures, I have decided to do a post on the canyon itself and the surrounding area.