Grimes Point, an hour east of Reno in the small town of Fallon, Nevada is an area that is a step back in time to the days when hunter gatherer Native Americans lived off the land. Hidden caves and petroglyphs dominate in this fascinating historical site, with the desert backdrop only adding to the intrigue.
While the landscape is arid and dry now, when Native Americans first visited the area 8,000 or more years ago, it was considerably different. Up until the end of the Ice Age, the desert scenery was actually part of a vast network of lakes that covered much of Nevada.
Petroglyphs – rock carvings – were made by Native Americans by etching into a rock surface, creating a newly exposed scar lighter than the original surface. The petroglyphs at Grimes Point are believed to be about 6,000 years old. Maintained by the Bureau of Land Management, Grimes Point is one of the largest and most accessible petroglyph sites in the United States, and is free to enter.
I started with the Petroglyph Trail, which is a self-guided trail but easy to follow. The total trail only takes about 15 minutes at a moderate pace, and markers are placed at points of interest. As you walk along, you’ll spot boulders that are ingrained with images of circles, wavy lines, human figures, snakes, and animals.
The next area of interest at Grimes Point is the Hidden Cave. The Hidden Cave was discovered in the late 1920s by four local boys. Archaeologists, since 1935, have since done several excavations to clear through the debris in the cave and have found well preserved and intact artifacts.
While the cave was never used for shelter, as it was too dark and cramped to live in, it was used by Native Americans over 3,500 years ago as a sort of mini storage. The artifacts recovered within show that it was used as a tool shed and pantry.
While entry to the cave was not possible when I visited Grimes Point, it is possible to hike 15 minutes up towards the entrance. If you do want to go inside, on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, free public tours of the cave are given (tour info here).
Have you been to Grimes Point? Have you ever seen petroglyphs?