Near Norden in Nevada County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Sacred Symbols From Ancient Times
The Donner Pass Petroglyphs
The rocks here are carved with ancient symbols called petroglyphs.
They were created by pecking the surface of the rock with a tool called a hammerstone. These petroglyphs are thought to be several thousand years old.
Similar figures are found in many places in the northern Sierra Nevada, usually on gently sloping granite polished by glaciers. Shapes such as circles, zigzags, and wavy lines are common. Human and animal forms, such as stick figures and tracks are less common. Some sites contain only a single element, while others, such as this one, may contain hundreds of individual elements.
No one knows what these symbols mean. Current studies suggest that petroglyphs are linked to the spiritual and ceremonial life of the people who created them. What do you think they mean?
Wa She Shu, created these petroglyphs. This pass is the main corridor for travel to and from Lake Tahoe, Da ow a ga . Gathering places were numerous in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Trade of food, arts & crafts, clothing materials and other essentials, took place in prominent places along the trail.
Preserving the Past for the Future
Do you have a spiritually significant place? This place was probably sacred for the people who created
Petroglyphs are fragile and irreplaceable; help preserve them by following these guidelines: • Walk around, not on them. Footsteps grind away the rock surface and destroy the images.
• Please don’t make rubbings or tracings. Rubbing wears away the rock surface.
• Leave rocks, plants, and artifacts where they lie. These figures and the surrounding area enhance our understanding of the people who created the petroglyphs.
• Please don’t build campfires at petroglyph sites. Fires leave scars.
• Please remove you trash. Litter is ugly and disrespectful.
Thank you for respecting our mother earth.
Erected by Friends of Sierra Rock Art, Sierra Nevada Alliance, Tahoe National Forest, Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California.
Location. 39° 19.039′ N, 120° 19.242′ W. Marker is near Norden, California, in Nevada County. Marker can be reached from Donner Pass Road, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Norden CA 95724, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Petroglyphs (within shouting distance of this marker); China Wall of the Sierra Rainbow Bridge (about 700 feet away); Donner Pass (about 700 feet away); Stephens – Townsend – Murphy Party of 1844 (about 700 feet away); McGlashan Point (about 800 feet away); Transcontinental Railroad (about 800 feet away); Donner Summit Overlook (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Norden.
More about this marker. This marker is located near the petroglyphs, just off of Donner Pass Road on the east side of Donner Pass. The China Wall marker is nearby.
Categories. • Native Americans •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 25, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 245 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on March 25, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.