Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lava Beds, Mojave National Preserve

I am captivated by the volcanic landscape at the Mojave National Preserve--the quiet, the open spaces, the sense of geological time. This photo was taken at the Lava Beds from the top of a ridge of volcanic rock, overlooking a long, dark ribbon of lava rocks (to the left of the wash) with cinder cones in the background. There are over 30 cinder cones in the area, with the most recent lava flow estimated at just 8-10,000 years ago.

Barrel cacti thrive among the lava rocks, providing bright spots of red color in all directions.

A stretch of the Mojave Road passes right through this area. This remote road is a historic travel route--used by the local Indians, then the Spaniards, then settlers into the 19th century--and now used by four-wheel-drive adventurers who want to re-experience a bit of history. (It takes 2-3 days to traverse the 138-mile route--it's rough going, for experienced off-roaders only.) You can learn more about the Mojave Road by clicking here and here

There is a trove of petroglyphs in the area. They are etched into the lava rock and are reminiscent of the petroglyphs we saw at Little Petroglyph Canyon. Note the snakelike line in the middle and the six dots in a row at the far right. Below, a tortoise-like figure and some human figures.