Petroglyphs are prehistoric images chiseled with stone and bone tools onto rock surfaces.

Pictographs are prehistoric images painted with dyes made from plants and mineral pigments mixed with water.

Many are found in California but few are easily accessible. Most require a 4-wheel drive vehicle and a GPS device to locate. Desert trails are either soft sand where you feel you are losing control or a hard washboard surface where you feel your insides rattling and hear your teeth chattering. Some roads have high centers strewn with boulders and chuckholes. Chaparral and mesquite scratch paint on vehicles. If you feel adventurous, check out the following:

In Riverside County, the Pictograph Maze Stone near Hemet, California Historic Landmark 557. Hwy 74, Florida Avenue exit N on California Avenue, 2.7 miles to gate at Maze Stone Park; walk 0.3 mile to end of road.

Petroglyphs at Corn Springs in the Mojave Desert. I-10 exit to Corn Springs Road; turn W, then E, 6.8 miles S on dirt Corn Springs Road. Petroglyphs at Corn Springs in the Mojave Desert.

In Inyo County, ask at Bishop Chamber of Commerce for directions to petroglyphs.

petroglyphs outside Bishop in Inyo County

Petroglyphs in Bishop, California

Petroglyphs in Bishop, California

Petroglyphs in Bishop, California

Use caution through the narrow, one way, no turn-around Titus Canyon (Leadfield) in Death Valley. You don’t want to be trapped in a flash flood.

Petroglyphs Sign in Titus Canyon, California

The Maturango Museum at Ridgecrest in Kern County offers rock art tours. Las Flores Avenue at China Lake Blvd.

Chumash Painted Cave is a California State Historic Park in Santa Barbara County.Hwy 54, 2.5 miles S of San Marcos Pass; E on Painted Cave Road 1.9 miles on steep, narrow winding road. Caves on north hillside above road. Off-road parking space for one vehicle.Caution: No trailers or motorhomes.



About Lynne Schaefer

Lynne Schaefer has written two newspaper columns ("The Schussboomer" about skiing in California, and "Notes from Lynne's Journal" about Oregon wildlife); travel and garden articles for regional magazines copy for DVD tours of the High Desert Museum and the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, both in Bend, Oregon. She has published three non-fiction books, A Traveler's Guide to Historic California, Christmas Trivia Quiz, and His Daughter's Remembrance.
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