Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Tyson’s Wash Petroglyphs

Tyson's Wash is like the Mississippi in a heavy rain, only not as slow. These rocks were buried in sand two years ago, and became exposed because of turbulence.

Tyson’s Wash is like the Mississippi in a heavy rain, only not as slow. These rocks were buried in sand two years ago, and became exposed because of turbulence.

Tyson’s Wash is a pretty interesting place, being the main water thoroughfare through Quartzsite, AZ. It is mainly a flowing depression of deep sand, and much of it is hundreds of feet wide. Most of the time, it’s parched. But when rains come in sufficient quantity, it is full, and moving fast. I went to see it yesterday while searching out an appropriate campsite with one C. Swankie, an RVer with considerable energy and fortitude. Since she has a degree in archeology, she served as my tour guide while on foot. Her blog is here, and be ready to be amazed by her Bucket List. She’s one of those people – just reading her bucket list makes me feel tired!

The path to get to the petroglyphs was obvious and easy, to a point. Once in the vicinity, a few abrupt washouts made chassis clearance a concern, but 4WD was never needed. Once at the wash, a quick drop-off ended the F-250’s ability to go any further without finding another, easier approach. I would have also liked to drive the wash itself, but it was a mix of nicely packed areas and soft sand, which would pose an instant problem for 9,000 pounds of lumbering iron on street tires. This is ATV and Jeep territory, and the Jeep had better have wide tires. It’s pretty easy to tell the difference when you’re walking along and your shoes start to sink in a couple of inches.

Looking up the border of Tyson Wash in the other direction.

Looking up the border of Tyson Wash in the other direction.

At any rate, this area once served as a home base for the indigenous peoples, and by the looks of it, for quite some time. Their artwork on the rock faces is impressive, and it still remains to this point vandal-free. There are grinding holes at the top of one of the formations, and some of them have been worn pretty deep. Just looking at these features provides an odd sense of connection and continuity that’s difficult to explain – odd, given the huge disparity in people, place and time. It all comes down to being a human being, I guess.

The surrounding area also served as the original townsite of Quartzsite. That proved an unfortunate choice, since a major flood soon washed it away. It was then relocated to its current location, where Fort Tyson originally stood on higher ground. A sizable safe filled with gold is still believed to be buried deep in the wash somewhere.

We passed by this cave on the way in.

We passed by this cave on the way in.

A closer look shows the cave to be shallow, but serviceable. The debris at the bottom indicates that it has been "worked" a bit for mining.

A closer look shows the cave to be shallow, but serviceable. The debris at the bottom indicates that it has been “worked” a bit for mining.

A petroglyph.

A petroglyph.

This made me wonder just what the bottom of the wash would look like without any sand.

This made me wonder just what the bottom of the wash would look like without any sand.

More petroglyphs!

More petroglyphs!

I find the formations here interesting because they are far from being worn smooth. Ongoing change.

I find the formations here interesting because they are far from being worn smooth. Ongoing change.

Just a formation I found to be interesting.

Just a formation I found to be interesting.

These little flowers bloomed here and there, which I considered to be quite a trick.

These little flowers bloomed here and there, which I considered to be quite a trick.

The main surface of Tyson Wash.

The main surface of Tyson Wash.

A formation on the other side is the attention-getter.

A formation on the other side is the attention-getter.

Bedding in a hidey-hole indicates it to be the den of some critter.

Bedding in a hidey-hole indicates it to be the den of some critter.

There were several more grinding holes in this group that I didn't include.

There were several more grinding holes in this group that I didn’t include.

Swankie's carcass gives them a sense of scale, no?

Swankie’s carcass gives them a sense of scale, no?

Walking a little further up reveals an odd unnamed development off of Cholla Road.

Walking a little further up reveals an odd unnamed development off of Cholla Road.

In her free time, Ms. Swankie likes to kayak, and has done so in nearly every state, Arizona included. Just not right here.

In her free time, Ms. Swankie likes to kayak, and has done so in nearly every state, Arizona included. Just not right here. She’s also an unrepentant rockhound, jewelry maker, and artist.

If you want to know where Quartzsite once stood, you're looking at it.

If you want to know where Quartzsite once stood, you’re looking at it.

Half a dozen ATVers making the rounds.

Half a dozen ATVers making the rounds.

No boring rock formations here. You need to step up close to appreciate them.

No boring rock formations here. You need to step up close (and/or on) to appreciate them.

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9 thoughts on “Tyson’s Wash Petroglyphs

  1. Doug, you are a funny funny man. Swankie’s carcass. All kidding aside, nice write up. And I have kayaked 49 states, with Hawaii coming up for my 70th Birthday in May 2014.

    • Oh, nice going, Swankie! I wanted people to check out your blog out of curiosity to see just how far along you’ve gotten! Now all they have is that insane bucket list (and all the other stuff).

      • Whoops, I didn’t know. You can delete my comments. You gotta tell a lady these things. Delete this one too.

        • I’m deleting nothing! You stick your foot in it here, and [insert humorous response here]. Really, there’s plenty to peruse on your blog that’s interesting, and your comments here help prove that I’m not just making this stuff up as I go along. It’s especially notable that this 50-state campaign, now at 49, is not a lifelong effort. It’s recent!

          • Yes, recent. Popped into my head all by itself, after I recovered from bilateral knee replacements… and when the surgeon said… “you can do anything you want to now.” First time in my life anyone ever told me that. Dang. I was dumbfounded. Then there it was… Kayak America.

  2. Dennis on said:

    Nice pictures Doug…….been too long since I’ve been down that way!

  3. Wait until you see the desert golf course.

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