If you haven't been to Corn Springs, you are missing a real treat. Here is a spot where you can visit a real desert oasis complete with palm trees, drive right up to some great petroglyphs, enjoy solitude and beautiful scenery, explore a funky cabin/museum and top it all off with a well maintained BLM campground! So load up the kids and pets! This won't require any hardcore jeeping; you can easily do this trip in the family sedan. Just don't do it in the summer! We were there in November and the temperatures were quite comfortable.
To access this site head out Interstate 10 to the Corn Springs exit, just east of the Desert Center exit. Turn south off the freeway onto a frontage road and go a half mile or so east to the well signed Corn Springs Road. Take this road southwesterly for about seven miles. The road is dirt, but is well graded and maintained. As you near Corn Springs you will enter a canyon and head west up the wash. The palm trees in the distance mark the location of Corn Springs and the campground. However, just before you arrive, be on the lookout for the petroglyphs on the north side of the road. A little exploring and boulder scrambling is needed to get the best views. Also, be sure to cross the wash and check out the rocks directly to the south. Some of the more elaborate panels are found here. David Whitley, in his book A Guide to Rock Art Sites: Southern California and Southern Nevada, estimates that the petroglyphs here date from the last few thousand years, with many probably made in the last 1,000 years. The permanent spring here provided life giving water for a prehistoric Indian settlement on the major east-west trail connecting the Colorado River and what is now the Coachella Valley. The petroglyphs here probably represent a shaman's portrayal of the spirits encountered during a vision quest.
After the petroglyphs, if you will be camping, you might want to get a spot at the campground. Limited water is available, but each site has a table and many have shade ramadas. The restroom facilities were quite clean when we were there. We had expected to see numerous campers, but the facility was completely empty. I understand that it can fill up quickly, though. It makes for a great base camp to hike into the adjacent mountains and canyons. Big Horn sheep frequent the area, and there is quite a bit of bird life and lots of other critters.
Be sure to explore the road as it continues west out of the campground. You can't miss the Little Chad Mill site. The cabin is a typical desert affair --- quaint and funky! Dilapidated furniture, flapping screens and broken windows can't mar the charm of the impromptu "museum." Wander around. Go on in and look at the memorabilia. By all means leave an entry in the log book. And be sure to walk over to the edge of the wash by the water tank/arrastre. If you look down you will see what I think might have been a well with some type of Rube Goldberg contraption that did who knows what!
We really enjoyed our day here. It was peaceful and full of the echoes of an earlier time. We would have stayed longer, but a long hike into the Palen-McCoy Wilderness Area and the McCoy Spring petroglyphs awaited us tomorrow. Click below for some visuals of Corn Springs.