Hospital Rock was once home to 500 Potwisha Native Americans. Archaeological evidence shows settlement as early as 1350, and bedrock mortar sites and petroglyphs remain. The Native Americans mostly used this site in the winter months. In 1860, Hale Tharp and his brother-in-law, John Swanson, were exploring the Giant Forest when Swanson sustained an injury to his leg. Swanson was transported to the locale where the injury was treated by local Indians. Hale Tharp gave the spot its name after a second similar incident. In 1873, James Everton recovered from a gunshot wound at the site. He had been injured by a shotgun snare set to trap bear.