In 2002 the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area encompassing approximately 75 square miles (48,438 acres) was formed. The conservation area is located only a short distance south of Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada in the northwestern McCullough Mountain Range.
Currently there is a large amount of ongoing construction on the property adjoining the conservation area. Even with all the construction, the canyon is still a place of solitude and adventure for many hikers. Occasionally a hiker will catch a glimpse of a desert tortoise, a chuckwalla, or even a bighorn sheep or two.
The centerpiece of the conservation area is the Sloan Canyon Petroglyph Site which has been in use for over 2,000 years. The site, which is still sacred to many Native Americans, is made up of 318 recorded rock art panels with approximately 1,200 individual elements. The rock art panels are distributed over a distance of about one mile. This mile is divided roughly into four sections -- upper, middle, lower, and the narrows, with the middle section having the greatest concentration of petroglyphs.
One of the theories for the abundance of petroglyphs in Sloan Canyon is that early hunters came for the bighorn sheep during the desert monsoon season of July and August. Because of the scarcity of water in the desert, the bighorn and other animals would come to drink from the natural basins that collected water during that time of the year. Hunting blinds were probably set up in the narrows above these areas which allowed for a more controlled hunting situation. There is also evidence of milling and processing which would indicate that people were camped in the area for at least a short period of time, possibly while the hunting was going on.
The rock art in Sloan Canyon is primarily Great Basin and Range tradition with abstract elements accounting for about 75% of elements seen in the canyon. Circular, rectilinear, and lines are the most common motifs in the canyon, sometimes appearing with other designs inside of them. Anthropomorphs (human-like) and Zoomorphs (animal-like) appear in about equal numbers throughout the canyon. Most of the anthropomorphs and zoomorphs that you will see in the canyon are not culturally specific, with most of the anthropomorphs being a traditional stick-figure type. There are two known exceptions to the stick-figure type petroglyph both of which are historic figures. One appears to be a cowboy holding a rifle and the other appears to be a cowboy riding a horse. These may depict contact between Native Americans and early American pioneers during the westward movement.