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Sloan Canyon: The 'Sistine Chapel' of rock art

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Sloan Canyon, located in the mountains just south of Sun City Anthem, is home to countless petroglyphs left to us by the area’s original inhabitants. For years the location, and even the knowledge of its existence, remained undisclosed to the average Nevadan. In 2003, however, the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area was dedicated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and opened to the public.

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Sloan Canyon has been called the Sistine Chapel of rock art, with good reason. Some of the rock art dates back 2,000 years and many of the depictions remain undecipherable. There are 1,700 catalogued petroglyphs ranging from images of local wildlife, such as the bighorn sheep, to cowboys on horseback, dating to the time when the natives made first contact with whites.

There are even a few that are believed by some to depict spacesuit-wearing extraterrestrials. Sloan Canyon is possibly the densest concentration of native rock art in the United States.

It is clear that this canyon was extremely sacred to the Native Americans who created it. The intricacy of some of the designs closely resembles an early form of hieroglyphics. There are never-ending possibilities as to their meaning; the canyon offers the introspective mind hours of contemplation. The exact message of the rock art may never be known, but experiencing this living history can be had by anyone as long as these stones continue to stand.

If you choose to visit Sloan Canyon please remember to never touch the artwork as the oils in human skin will erode and damage the petroglyphs. Leave everything as you found it and, as the saying goes, pack it in, pack it out.

Camping is not allowed within the conservation area, and vehicles of any type are forbidden from entering the canyon. Only hiking is recommended in the petroglyph area. Horseback riding is permitted elsewhere in the conservation area and the North McCullough Wilderness.

Visit the official BLM site for directions.

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