Monday, May 21, 2012

Coso Petroglyphs

I am on my 31st annual camping trip with Bruce Gregory and Stephen Johnson.  The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Coso Petroglyphs, which might be the highest concentration of rock art in the western hemisphere.
This is an extremely unusual petroglyph, apparently showing a confrontation between archers.  The extra toes might be because this was a depiction of an hallucination.

The petroglyphs are located on China Lake Naval Weapons Station near Ridgecrest, California.  The area is NOT open to the general public.

This beautiful panel includes a lot of bighorn sheep, which is the most common object here.  Most images were probably made in the last 2000 years, but some may be as old as 6000 years.

Tours are arranged through the wonderful Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest, California.  If you want to go, check their web site and sign up the first day the tours are announced, or you probably won't get in.
These petroglyphs are on a rock that shows the terrain inside the canyon. The hike is fairly strenuous and includes climbing down two dry waterfalls, very uneven footing, and some deep sand.  Good hiking boots are required.
Human figures (anthropomorphs) are common and spectacular.

Anyone who signs up to see these petroglyphs must have proof of US citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport.  Everyone will be given a background check before being allowed to enter China Lake Naval Weapons Station.  All cars will be searched thoroughly.  Security will give everyone a half-hour lecture while you are waiting for the security check to be completed.  Cameras and binoculars will not be allowed to be accessible until the petroglyph site is reached.  Museum docents will accompany the group at all times, and they are an excellent source of information.

I recommend a polarizing filter to bring out the images.  The petroglyphs on the right side of the canyon will be visible on the way in, and some on the left side will emerge from the shadows as you walk out.

The petroglyphs here are really special, and the experience is an adventure if you can get in at all.

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