Tolar Petroglyphs, how do you know when an assigment's over?


The Tolar Petroglyph Site, Wyoming

I photographed the “Storied Rock” article that appears in the May National Geographic Magazine over the course of 3 years. Last October, I really thought I had made my last photograph when I finished shooting at Wedding Rocks on the Olympic National Park. I called my wife; I called my friends, and we all celebrated my being finished.


Wedding Rocks Petroglyph Site, Washington

Then I called my editor and he said “you know there is one more place we should look at.” The Tolar petroglyph panel confirms what Native Americans have long known, they adopted the horse many years before the scientific community thought they had.

Honestly, I didn’t want to go, but I learned years ago to trust my editor’s instincts just as he trusts mine. And he was right. Tolar is spectacular. The site perfectly bookends the story and says so much about why we should value images engraved on the landscape. People from the past speak to us through the images their images. They tell us so much if we take the time to listen.

You can see the whole Storied Rock story on National Geographic or view the images here.

-Stephen Alvarez

May 2024