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