Pictographs of the American Southwest

By wpdev March 14, 2012

Indigenous-American pictographs are fragile images painted onto stone walls. The images are are very old and the pant is an organic mixture of minerals and plants held together with some sort of binding resin like animal fat or blood. While examples of ancient pictographs can be found in many parts of the country, the largest and most impressive collections are in the desert caves and exposed stone walls of the American Southwest. Wilderness Ventures students are lucky-enough to explore some of these majestic sites on the Colorado Utah, Colorado Utah Mountain Bike and Southwest Service Adventures.


One of the best-known tribes for their desert artistry is the Anasazi people. Romanticized for their pueblo dwellings and dramatic rock art, the Anasazi (Navajo for “Ancient Ones”) lived in immense pueblo cities, accessible via ladders that they could pull away in refuge of approaching enemies.


The Southwest Service Adventure spends time learning about and living with local indigenous populations. The group stays as guests of the Navajo Nation, visiting with World War II-era Code Talkers and contributing to much needed service projects within the village. Since the ancient, indigenous inhabitants of the American Southwest were agricultural experts (growing their food in this harsh but beautiful climate), we also contribute our time working and learning at a the Santa Fe Community Farm and, completing the supply chain, in the Food Bank of Santa Fe. Of course, the best way to experience the magic of the desert is on foot, and so we’ll take hikes to many of the little known pictograph sites as we travel through this very special region.


The Colorado Utah Mountain Biking and Colorado Utah Adventures allow students the chance to explore the environment and indigenous art of the Southwest Canyon Country. Visiting both Arches and Canyon Lands National Parks is a great way to begin to experience the concentration of beauty in the region. Additionally, groups will get out and explore some of the most amazing pictographs in the American Southwest – both on foot and via mountain bike and whitewater raft.

While there are examples of ancient pictographs throughout North America, the most impressive and beautiful examples lie in the Southwest. Wilderness Ventures students on the Southwest Service, Colorado Utah and Colorado Utah Mountain Bike Adventures have unprecedented opportunities to witness, first hand, the beauty of these pre-Columbian works of art. The Southwestern desert is a place where time seems to stand still. Experience this fantastic region with Wilderness Ventures.