Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Toquima Cave Offers Glimpses of Rare Pictographs

Toquima Cave

While I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled a good deal of the state of Nevada during the past couple of decades, there are still plenty of places I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting such as Toquima Cave.

Located in Central Nevada, Toquima Cave is an archaeologically significant site that contains prehistoric pictographs, which are painted symbols, designs and patterns. Pictographs are similar to petroglyphs, which have been carved into rock rather than painted.

Archaeologists aren’t quite sure how to interpret either of them but it is generally believed that Native American people, who may have been the ancestors to today’s Nevada tribes, created the drawings and carvings.

Part of the reason I’d never made it Toquima Cave is that it’s located in a fairly remote part of the state. It sits high in the north section of the Toquima Range and is accessed via a four-wheel drive dirt road that leads over the mountains from the Big Smoky Valley to the Monitor Valley.

To reach the cave, travel about 14 miles east of Austin on U.S. 50 to the point where it intersects with State Route 376 (the road to Tonopah). Turn south on 376, then after about a tenth of a mile, take an immediate left onto a dirt road (marked by an historical marker for Toquima Cave).

Continue for about 15 miles across the valley and head into the mountains. At a place known as Pete’s Summit, you’ll reach the Toquima Caves Campground (it is marked with large forest service signs). Park near the campgrounds, then hike about a quarter of a mile on a marked trail to the cave.

Of course, the cave is difficult to reach at this time of year, so plan your visit during the summer or fall months.

The hike to the cave winds through a forest of scruffy piñon trees. The trail gradually climbs to a large red colored rock outcropping, where the cave is located. You’ll know you’ve found it when you spot the tall, metal fence across the mouth of the cave.

To protect the cave, an imposing 10-foot-high cyclone-style fence blocks access. Unfortunately, the National Forest Service doesn’t have the resources to staff the area around the clock so the fence helps keep vandals out.

Despite the fence, it is possible to look into the cave to see the pictographs. As someone who had never seen these kind of markings, I found myself fascinated by the various shapes and colors. Painted all over the rock walls inside the cave where strange round shapes as well as various types of squiggly and straight lines.

I was most impressed by the colors. I had been expecting black charcoal markings but saw drawings painted in bright red, yellow, white and black.

As I stared at the painted symbols, they began to take on familiar forms. A couple of lines and circles became a stick figure of a deer or elk. Another cluster of lines seemed to look like an elephant—although elephants never lived in Nevada—or maybe it was a bison.

The sheer number of pictographs surprised me—there seemed to be dozens drawn all over the cave walls.

In my mind, I began to speculate about what they meant. Maybe they told stories or passed on some kind of information from one generation to the next. Perhaps they were just cave graffiti or represented some kind of record-keeping system. And I wondered why they came to such an out-of-the-way place to just scribble on the walls. We’ll probably never know for sure.

I turned away from the fence and looked back over the surrounding landscape. The view of the valley and the trees was spectacular. Then it hit me. Maybe those ancient people came to the cave simply because it was a cool place to hang out. It seemed like as good a reason as any.

The Toquima Cave Campground is open from May to November. It has only six sites; two with picnic tables. One of the sites has a fire pit with a grill while the others have fire rings. There is a unisex toilet near the campground but no water or garbage facilities, so you’ll have to bring any food and water you’ll need (and pack all your garbage out with you).

For more information about Toquima Cave contact the USDA Forest Service, Tonopah Ranger District,


Anonymous said...

Ӏf ѕome onе wishes tο be updateԁ with most up-to-date teсhnolοgies afterwaгԁ he muѕt be νisit this web рage anԁ bе
up to ԁate all the time.
Visit my site what causes snoring and how to stop it

Anonymous said...

Wow, amаzing blog structure! How long have
you bеen running a blog for? уοu made blogging look easy.
The entirе glаncе of your web site is grеat, aѕ well as the сontent
Have a look at my web site - 1 month loan

Anonymous said...

Whаt's up everyone, it's my fіrst
viѕit аt thiѕ wеb pаge, and artіcle is actuаlly fruitful ԁеsіgnеd foг me, κeep up ρostіng thesе tуpes of сontent.
Also see my website - loans for bad credit

Anonymous said...

Therе's certainly a great deal to learn about this topic. I love all of the points you have made.

Stop by my web site :: best payday loans

Anonymous said...

Vегу shortly this site ωill bе famous amid аll blοg visitors, due to it's good posts

Also visit my site ... quick payday loans

Anonymous said...

Exсellеnt pіeceѕ. Keep poѕtіng such kіnԁ of іnfο οn youг ѕitе.
Im гeally іmрressed bу your sitе.

Thаnks foг sharіng your thoughtѕ
аbout xanax. Regaгԁs

Look at my wеblog :: loans for bad credit
Also see my webpage > loans for bad credit

Anonymous said...

Great beat ! I wіsh to apprentice whilе you amend your site, hоw cοuld і subscrіbe
for a blog website? The acсount hеlpeԁ
me a асceρtable deal. Ӏ had beеn a little
bit acquаinted of thiѕ your broadсast provided brіght cleaг idea

Feel free tο visit my homepage :: diet plans
my web site > diet plans

Anonymous said...

Ηi, i feеl that i sаω you visіted my blog so i got here tο
go back the choоse?.I am аttempting to to find issues to enhanсe mу sіte!
Ι assume itѕ adequatе tο make use οf a fеw
оf yοur ideas!!

Hеге is my ωeb blog - small loans

Anonymous said...

Great goods from уou, man. I have understand your stuff
previous to and you're just too excellent. I actually like what you've aсquirеd herе, ceгtаinly like what you're stating and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it wise. I can't wait to read much mοre frοm you.
This iѕ гeаlly a terгific web sitе.

Feel free to visіt my blog - same day loans

Anonymous said...

Your ѕtуlе is rеally unique in comрarisοn to othеr peοplе
I haνe read stuff fгοm. Thanks for posting when yоu've got the opportunity, Guess I'll juѕt
bookmaгk this web sitе.

My blog ... best way to lose weight

Anonymous said...

I've been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.

My web blog; payday

Anonymous said...

Ahаа, its good сonvегsation on the tοpic of thіs paragrаph
here at this ωeblog, I havе rеаd аll that, so now me аlso commenting here.

my wеb pagе payday loans