Road Work at Great Basin National Park
Beginning July 8, 2014 and continuing through the end of August there will be road work at Great Basin National Park on paved roads throughout the park. Delays of 10 minutes or less may occur. Updated 7/29/2014 More »
Upper Pictograph Cave
An Ancient Canvas
First, a pigment, usually inorganic, gave the paint color. One common pigment was the mineral hematite which creates a red color. Next, a binder was added to hold the pigment particles together and to hold the paint onto the rock surface. Some examples of binder ingredients include blood, egg, seed oils, plants resins and juices, milk and honey. The third ingredient of the paint was a medium, or a fluid, that made the paint liquid and suitable for application. Examples include plant juices, water, animal oils, and urine.
While many of the pictographs clearly represent living things, some of the art is more abstract - dots and lines drawn on the rock surface with paint or charcoal.
But what do these pictographs mean? No one can say absolutely what the painter had in mind while creating these images. To attach meaning would be to possibly make wrong inferences or conclusions about the images and about the people who made them. We are left, then, to guess for ourselves. Therefore, realize that any meaning we give these paintings is merely speculation, and what they actually represent, if they do, in fact, represent anything, may never be known.
More Than Pictures
Upper Pictograph Cave has been used by animals as well as people. Pack rats used this shelter to build their nests or middens, and Townsend's big-eared bats have been known to use this cave from time to time. These bats are very sensitive to the slightest disruption, so it is essential to not go inside. Instead, enjoy this cave and its special features from the outside, and leave with a better understanding and appreciation of this natural and cultural resource.
Threats to the Cave
Did You Know?
White Pine County, home to Great Basin National Park, lays claim to some of the most famous ghost towns in Nevada: Hamilton (the former county seat), Osceola (where the largest gold nugget in the state was found) and Cherry Creek.