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Lake Lahontan, Sand Mountain and Grimes Point Archaeology Site in Fallon Nevada

Updated on January 13, 2016
Phyllis Doyle profile image

Historical and archaeological sites are a favorite subject for Phyllis to write on for tourism ideas.

Singing Sands of Sand Mountain ~

Sand Mountain, Fallon, Nevada
Sand Mountain, Fallon, Nevada | Source

Singing Sands and Kwazi ~

Fallon Nevada is not a very colorful area, for it is mostly desert sand, yet the history of Lake Lahontan, Sand Mountain and Grimes Point Archaeological site is so interesting that it draws people from everywhere. Once people learn about the "singing sands" and the Petroglyph Trail, they realize it is one of the most interesting sites to visit. These fantastic areas are on Highway 50, which is called "the loneliest road in America".

Can sand sing? Yes, sands can actually make sounds as it is shifting and the grains rub against each other. Sometimes it sounds like a song from voices of the past. Sand Mountain in Fallon, Nevada is a phenomenal place to visit. There is nothing around there but this humongous mountain of sand that attracts tourists -- the sand dune, which is two miles long and 600 feet high, just sitting there on the flat land is an amazing sight to see.

There is a campground next to the dune, because people love to take their OHVs (Off Road Vehicles) out there, playing all day up and down the hill. It is really odd to see all the ATVs up on the hill with sand flying behind them, yet when standing down on the flat grounds the sounds are carried away in the desert and it is almost silent to the observer.

Sand Mountain in Fallon Nevada ~

Sand Mountain Recreation area on ancient Lake Lahontan land.
Sand Mountain Recreation area on ancient Lake Lahontan land. | Source

Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly ~

Sand Mountain is the only home of the Blue Butterfly
Sand Mountain is the only home of the Blue Butterfly | Source

Beautiful Blue Butterfly ~

This area is also the only home of the beautiful Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly. It has delicate gossamer wings As larvae, they are completely dependent on Kearney Buckwheat, commonly known as wild buckwheat. The larvae feed off the fallen leaves of the plant. The adult butterfly drinks the nectar of the buckwheat flowers.

Lake Lahontan and Sand Mountain ~

The sand dune lies just on the edge of Lake Lahontan. This is an ancient lake that dried up some 9,000 years ago. Over the centuries it left smaller lakes scattered over the desert till eventually they all dried up -- it is now a vast and barren playa. This barren land was once a vast area of lakes which covered much of Nevada and western Utah up until the end of the Ice Age 10-12,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence has shown that humans lived in the area at the time Lake Lahontan existed.

Lake Lahontan in the Fallon area was once the home of the Northern Paiute Indians who lived above the waters in caves. The huge lake supplied enough foods they needed year round, which supplemented their diet of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Many species of fish and fowl provided nutritious food for the tribe. Antelope and smaller animals were hunted. Along with gathering of roots and nuts, their diet was abundant in proteins.

The caves are still there and some can be accessed by tourists. A few caves, like Hidden Cave, can only be entered with a Park Ranger as a guide. Hidden Cave is where the Paiute people stored all their dried foods for the winter months and their valuables. Burnt Cave is where the tribe burned fires to clear out the bats that inhabited the cave. Smoke from the fires stained the walls of the cave. Pictographs the people painted of bats and other symbols can still be seen today. These caves are located just down the road at Grimes Point.

About 12,700 years ago, a period called the Sehoo Highstand, the surface area of the lake was over 8,500 square miles and about 900 feet deep. Today, a remnant of this ancient lake lies just 39 miles northeast of Reno, Nevada, which is where Lake Pyramid lies on the Northern Paiute Reservation.

The Northern Paiute Indians of the area call the sand dune Kwazi. Because the sands are constantly shifting and reshaping the dune, it is like a snake which wreaths. The ridge of the dune is the snake's backbone -- the spirit of Kwazi the Serpent lives within the dune. Even though the sands are constantly moving, the location of the dune is constant.

The dune moves much like a sidewinder snake does ~

The sand dune is called Kwazi by the Paiute people.
The sand dune is called Kwazi by the Paiute people. | Source

Burnt Cave at Grimes Point ~

Grimes Point Petroglyphs ~

Rock art at Grimes Point
Rock art at Grimes Point | Source
Rock art at Grimes Point
Rock art at Grimes Point | Source

Grimes Point Archaeological Site ~

Grimes Point Prehistorical Rock Art site is an archaeological site located just down the road from Sand Mountain, about seven miles east of Fallon, on the north side of Highway 50, in Churchill County, Nevada. It is 720 acres of trails meandering up the hill among petroglyphs that were etched by the ancient Paiute tribe.

The boulders that the petroglyphs are on, are a deep chocolate brown with a much lighter color just under the surface. When the etchings were done, they showed up in the light color. Over time they have darkened and the patina is almost as dark as the rest of the boulder.

This is one of the largest and most easily accessible petroglyph sites in the United States. The petroglyphs are dated at about 6000 years old. Native Americans first inhabited the site at least 8000 years ago.

Walking along the trail is like stepping back into the past.

Petroglyph ~

Petroglyph at Grimes Point.
Petroglyph at Grimes Point. | Source
Sand Mountain:
Fallon Nevada

get directions

Sand Mountain Recreation Area, Nevada, USA

Grimes Point:
201-299 S Laverne St, Fallon, NV 89406, USA

get directions

Grimes Point petroglyph trail.

Song within my soul ~

I wrote this poem several years ago as I sat in the rest area at Grimes Point. The whole area, from Sand Mountain and throughout Grimes Point is very spiritual, with the essence of the ancient Native American tribes that lived there. I felt a strong connection to the past and the words of this poem just flowed out with no effort -- as if they drifted up from the sands.

There is a song within my soul, a song to never grow old
His words that tell me how we loved, cherished words gently to hold

The journey of his life was long, each day he lived was whole
He played his music, loved me true, left a song within my soul

We walked the desert nights together, each night Eternity
To hold forever in our hearts, love born of Divinity

Where and how we met so magical, only our spirits know
Forever we blissfully loved, a song within the soul

To walk with him was all my life, to sing with him Divine
No other soul could know my love nor ever be mine

No other could I give to but him, my only love sublime
Even now at end of nights, I walk alone in memory time

I reach back in time to listen, feel the sorrow, missing him
Oh, my love you left me here, alone to face the future dim

No one to share the music now, alone I sing your song
The words you wrote linger in my heart, the melody not gone

A mist of time so long ago, passes by as I see
The song we sang became one voice, hearts as one so lovingly

I walk the desert nights with you again, your voice within the sands of time
Till I reach that peaceful place, where once again you are mine.

I come to you and reach out, your hand so near, your heart so clear
Take me with you, let me walk again with you, my dear

Sing your song, my heart my soul, sing as once so long ago
Let me hear your voice again, sing your song within my soul
~ ~ ~ ~

Grimes Point Petroglyphs ~

Note from author ~

Thank you for reading my article. Your opinions are important to me and let me know your interests. This helps me to offer more of your favorite subjects to read about. Your time and interest are very much appreciated. I hope to hear from you in the comments section below.

I write on several different subjects, all evergreen articles. You can read more about me and see more articles I wrote by clicking on my name by the small picture of me at the top right of this page.

Blessings and may you always walk in peace and harmony, softly upon Mother Earth.

Phyllis Doyle Burns - Lantern Carrier, Spiritual Mentor
~ ~ ~ ~

© 2014 Phyllis Doyle Burns


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