Petroglyph Trail

Round Trip Distance: 4.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 2851 - 3215 feet
Cellphone: 1-4 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Nawghaw Poa Road
Fee: none
Attractions: petroglyphs

The Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area protects a part of Nevada's Mohave Desert just south of Las Vegas, Nevada. A handful of hiking, equestrian and mountain bike trails have been established withing the Sloan Canyon NCA. This post covers the Petroglyph trail, aka Trail 100, which travels up a scenic canyon that leads into the North McCullough Wilderness Area where hundreds of petroglyphs can be found upon boulders and the canyon walls.

The easiest method to find your way to the trailhead is to enter 'Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area Visitor Contact Station' in your driving software and then be sure that the location you select is on Nawghaw Poa Road. Sloan Canyon has multiple trailheads and it is possible to end up at the wrong one. Otherwise take Exit 27 off of Interstate 15 and drive east on St. Rose Parkway. Turn right on Las Vegas Blvd. South. Turn left on Volunteer Blvd and then right on Via Inspirada. At the 2nd traffic circle go left on Avenida Brancusi and then left on Via Venetia. Continue as Via Venetia becomes Via Monet and then turn right on Montage Drive. Continue slightly left as Montage Drive becomes Democracy Drive and then turn right on the Nawghaw Poa Road which ends at the Visitor Contact Station.

The Petroglyph trail is only open between 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. All visitors must check in at the Contact Station before setting out on the trail and must be off the trail no later than 4:30 pm. After checking in follow the route that leads down the hill to the old trailhead for the Petroglyph trail.

From the trailhead the route enters a wash which it begins following. The wash gets deeper as it progresses where around the 1 mile point the trail crosses the boundary into the North McCullough Wilderness Area.

At the 1.3 mile point from the Contact Station the 200 trail branches off on the right. The 200 trail is an optional route to the petroglyphs that is more primitive in nature but avoids the dryfalls that are coming up on the 100 trail.

The first of the dryfalls is a short distance later and is easily bypassed on the left.

After passing the first dryfall the canyon becomes both deeper and more narrow. A few hundred feet past the dryfall as the wash bumps up against the canyon wall on the left keep an eye out both high and low for some pretty nice petroglyphs. Some of them are only about 20 feet or so above the bottom of the wash but this particular panel is all the way up near the canyons rim. Everyone that we noticed on the day that we took the photos for this post were walking right past these panels.

The next dryfall comes up a few hundred feet later. The rocks on both sides of the wash at this point are decorated with petroglyphs. This dryfall requires a little scramble to get over but other than being a little slick it isn't too bad.

The third dryfall is a little tougher to get over. The only doable route for most people is scrambling up the slippery granite on the left. It's not too bad if you have someone to give you a little boost. Don't give up because the main panels of petroglyphs begin right at the top of this dryfall and if you don't feel comfortable coming back this way you can always loop back via the 200 trail, avoid the dryfalls and cut about a quarter mile off of the round trip distance.

Once above the third dryfall there is a constant array of petroglyphs on both sides of the canyon both high and low for probably the next quarter mile or so.

We were told at the Contact Station that there would be a ranger at the petroglyphs to answer questions and to keep people from climbing the sides of the wash but we never saw any rangers. We were able to get suitable photos from the wash using a zoom lens.

It's easy to spend more time taking pictures of all the petroglyphs than it takes for the actual hiking.

We turned around at the end of the 100 trail where it meets the 200 and 300 trails and went back the same way that we came and spotted quite a few petroglyphs that we had missed on the hike up the canyon. That is probably because the angle of the sun was a little different and we had it at our back on the return hike. There are supposed to be over 1,700 petroglyph images in Sloan Canyon so I'm sure there were quite a few that we missed. There are at least a couple before you even reach the first dryfall that we didn't notice until the return trip. For petroglyphs that date  from historic times back to the Archaic period most of the images are still in great shape. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.