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More Faces from the Past

Pictographs at Hell Dive Canyon

Quite different from Indian Canyon Cave, this place was clearly a family home

By Michael Mountain

A few weeks ago, I went over to see the spectacular cave wall paintings at Indian Canyon Cave. Not far from there is another dome cave that’s quite different, though just as fascinating in its own way.

It’s at the back of a canyon that was called Hell Dive Canyon by the European settlers who found it 150 years ago. Of course, those folks were more interested in raising cattle than learning about earlier cultures, so maybe this narrow, steep, boggy canyon was hellish to them. But with the highly valuable spring that hollowed it out in the first place, it would have been something closer to heaven to the families who lived there for more than a thousand years, until, sometime in the 14th Century, drought overcame the land.

The cave (it’s a dome, by the way, not a tunnel kind of cave) is tucked away at the back of this side canyon, where a spring comes out of the rock and feeds all this dense brush. Down below, it’s muddy and quite precarious.

So, to get to the cave, you have to edge your way around the steep side, being careful not to slide all the way down where the ground is still being eroded away by the spring below it. And then you find yourself in this great stone alcove: