Crystal Wash |

Crystal Springs

Hiking Crystal Wash - Crystal Springs Hiking Crystal Wash

Crystal Springs

Overview

RATING: Easy / Moderate Hike
MAPS: HIKO, NV

Sun

Mostly sunny, with a high near 64. East southeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming south in the afternoon.

64 | 36

Mon

A 10 percent chance of showers after 4pm.  Mostly sunny, with a high near 63. South southwest wind 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph.

63 | 35

Tue

A chance of rain and snow showers before 10am.  Sunny, with a high near 54. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

54 | 36

Wed

Sunny, with a high near 58.

58 | 29

Thu

Sunny, with a high near 61.

61 | 33

View Full Weather Details
SEASON: Any, hot in the summer
GEAR: Standard Hiking Gear
WATER: None
NOTES: Reaching the east side trailhead is 2-track dirt road. It was good enough on our visit most vehicles should be able to reach it. It is easy to walk this section of road if needed though.

Sun

Mostly sunny, with a high near 64. East southeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming south in the afternoon.

64 | 36

Mon

A 10 percent chance of showers after 4pm.  Mostly sunny, with a high near 63. South southwest wind 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph.

63 | 35

Tue

A chance of rain and snow showers before 10am.  Sunny, with a high near 54. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

54 | 36

Wed

Sunny, with a high near 58.

58 | 29

Thu

Sunny, with a high near 61.

61 | 33

View Full Weather Details
The boulders of Crystal Wash

The boulders of Crystal Wash

Near Crystal Springs, Nevada sits Crystal Wash, the site of a fairly extensive rock art site. The main area on the east side of Crystal Wash is thought to have been a winter habitation site for the Pahranagats, similar to the nearby Ash Springs Rock Art Site. The west side has rock art as well, but does not appear to have been inhabited like the east side.

Crystal Wash is composed of large granite outcroppings and boulders. Rock art is scattered throughout the outcroppings and boulders, almost as though it were a path or maybe in an order to tell some story. It is a fascinating place. You can visit either the east (main) site, or the west site via a short hike. I would recommend, however, visiting both sites via through hike from the east to the west. If you have two cars, this can be done as a one-way hike. Even with one vehicle, the out and back is a very reasonable and interesting hike.

History Note: In addition to the rock art and signs of Native American habitation, there is an area of refuse and stone walls on the way to the eastern site trailhead. This is referred to as the Crystal Wash Shepherds Camp by some. In speaking with the BLM Archeologist for the area, it turns out the history of the site is unknown. There is not a record of sheep allotments in the area. It seems likely this was a temporary mining camp. It is mentioned in the driving directions below, and worth a side trip to check out.
Ruby checking out a panel on the east side.

Ruby checking out a panel on the east side.

Getting There

East Side (Main) Trailhead
The east side trailhead is reached by turning north off US-93 just past mile marker 55. This is about 3.9 miles east of the junction of US-93 and SR-318 near Crystal Springs.

Once you turn off US-93, go through the fence. On the other side of the fence is a junction. Right goes northeast. Go LEFT here. Almost immediately, another junction is reached. This is the junction for the old shepherd camp. To visit the shepherds camp, go left here for a few hundred feet to the main area of the old shepherd camp.

To the rock art, go right instead, heading north, and follow the road to its end at the trailhead. It is about 0.7 miles from US-93 to the trailhead.

West Side Trailhead
The trailhead is just off US-93 about 0.2 miles past mile marker 54. This is about 3 miles east of the junction of US-93 and SR-318 near Crystal Springs. There is a small side road here that goes to the fence, with a spot for people to be able to walk through the fence. This is the trailhead.

An interesting panel with a lot going on at Crystal Wash

An interesting panel with a lot going on at Crystal Wash

Route

Rock Art and Historic Site Etiquette
Rock art and historic sites are fragile, non-renewable cultural resources that, once damaged, can never be replaced. To ensure they are protected, please:
  • Avoid Touching the Petroglyphs: Look and observe, BUT DO NOT TOUCH!
  • Stay on the Trails: Stay on the most used trails when visiting sites, and don't create new trails or trample vegetation.
  • Photography and Sketching is Allowed: Do not introduce any foreign substance to enhance the carved and pecked images for photographic or drawing purposes. Altering, defacing, or damaging the petroglyphs is against the law -- even if the damage is unintentional.
  • Pets: Keep pets on a leash and clean up after them.
  • Artifacts: If you happen to come across sherds (broken pottery) or lithics (flakes of stone tools), leave them where you see them. Once they are moved or removed, a piece of the past is forever lost.
Note: On our visit in 2022, the trail was mostly easy to find and follow. That being said, keep a close eye out for tracks and on the map.

Main (East) Entrance
From the trailhead, site 1 is about 100 northeast on the large boulder. After visiting site 1, head to the wash proper and go down (west) the wash.

About 1/4 of a mile downstream from the trailhead, the wash passes boulders on the left, then a side wash comes in before more boulders on the left. Sites 2 and 3 are in the second boulders just after the wash. This is also the easiest route from the main area to the west side, so make a mental note of it.

From sites 2 and 3, follow the wash downstream for another minute or two until boulders come close to the wash on both sides. From here, make a loop by going right and following the boulders in a circle back to sites 2 and 3. See the map for the locations, but sites 4,5 and 6 are close to the wash. Sites 7-10 are on the backsides of boulders about 0.2 miles from the wash. Circle back to sites 2/3 after visiting #10.

If just visiting the main site, return by going back up the wash to the trailhead.

East Route to West Entrance
If continuing through to the west entrance, the easiest path is to go east from sites 2/3 to the wash bottom, then follow it downstream. When a major comes in on the right, look for west entrance site 4. This major wash comes in about a 1/2 mile from leaving site 2.

See West Entrance section below for the sites lower in Crystal Wash.

Alternate Route To The West Entrance:
A more challenging, and I think more interesting, route to the west entrance is to head from sites 4 into the drainage heading southwest. This requires minor scrambling and comes to a short slot. If the slot has water or the first down climb into it seems too difficult, bypass it on the right and re-enter below the slot. Follow this canyon down to its junction with a major wash coming in on the left. This is the Easy Route wash described above. West entrance site #4 is at the confluence of this drainage and the Easy Route.

West Entrance
From the trailhead, cross through the passage in the fence and head to the wash bottom on the social trail. Follow the wash upstream. West side sites 1 and 2 are in the wash right when the wash becomes boulder lined on both walls. For sites 3 and 4, continue up the wash. Site 3 is only about 300 feet upstream from site 1. Site 4 is about 700 feet upstream from site 1.

Sites 5 and 6 are very difficult to describe, as they are up out of the wash in the maze of boulders and cliffs. From site 1, head south up the hill. You will pass around a small ridge and see a small valley. On the other side of the valley is site 6, with site 5 nearby. We saw site 6 from a distance, so keep an eye out as you hike.

Return the same way.


Maps

Route / 1.91 miles / Elevation Range 3,940 - 4,157 ft.
Printable Maps:
Crystal Wash Trailhead

11S 662407mE 4158230mN

N37° 33' 24" W115° 09' 41"

MM54

11S 661075mE 4157454mN

N37° 33' 00" W115° 10' 36"

MM55

11S 662696mE 4157276mN

N37° 32' 53" W115° 09' 30"

Crystal Wash West Access

11S 661336mE 4157452mN

N37° 32' 60" W115° 10' 25"

Crystal Wash Shepherd's Camp

11S 662548mE 4157433mN

N37° 32' 58" W115° 09' 36"

#10

11S 661898mE 4158132mN

N37° 33' 22" W115° 10' 01"

#9

11S 661880mE 4158135mN

N37° 33' 22" W115° 10' 02"

#8

11S 661889mE 4158116mN

N37° 33' 21" W115° 10' 02"

#7

11S 661885mE 4158109mN

N37° 33' 21" W115° 10' 02"

#6

11S 661925mE 4158040mN

N37° 33' 19" W115° 10' 00"

#5

11S 661950mE 4158021mN

N37° 33' 18" W115° 09' 59"

#4

11S 661945mE 4158021mN

N37° 33' 18" W115° 09' 60"

#3

11S 662055mE 4158047mN

N37° 33' 19" W115° 09' 55"

#2

11S 662045mE 4158084mN

N37° 33' 20" W115° 09' 56"

#1

11S 662425mE 4158250mN

N37° 33' 25" W115° 09' 40"

Slot

11S 661897mE 4157936mN

N37° 33' 15" W115° 10' 02"

West #1

11S 661487mE 4157800mN

N37° 33' 11" W115° 10' 18"

West #2

11S 661464mE 4157813mN

N37° 33' 12" W115° 10' 19"

West #3

11S 661533mE 4157851mN

N37° 33' 13" W115° 10' 17"

West #4

11S 661677mE 4157833mN

N37° 33' 12" W115° 10' 11"

West #5 - Pictograph

11S 661514mE 4157719mN

N37° 33' 08" W115° 10' 17"

West #6

11S 661522mE 4157712mN

N37° 33' 08" W115° 10' 17"

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