Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park (Santa Barbara, CA)

 

Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park

Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park

 

From Santa Barbara take 101 north to the 101B exit (State St.  toward California 154/Cachuma Lake). Merge on CA-154 W/California State Route 154/San Marcos Pass Rd. for 5.5 miles. Turn right on Painted Cave Rd. and follow for 2.5 miles. Painted Cave Rd. is a narrow and steep paved road. Keep an eye out for oncoming traffic, bicyclist and hikers. Once you arrive at the painted cave there is minimal parking space, park as far off the road as possible.

 

Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park - Sadly due to vandalism an iron gate was installed to keep people out.

Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park – Sadly due to vandalism an iron gate was installed to keep people out.

 

The Chumash Indians settled the area between Malibu and Paso Robles over 13,000 years ago. Over 150 Chumash Villages existed prior to the Spanish arrival and the dawn of the Mission Period. Early population numbers are believed to have been around 18,000.

Archaeologist believe that the paintings at Painted Cave date to 1600 or earlier. Research has shown that the pictographs were not created all at once, but rather over a period of time, some designs being painted over.  Three main colors are represented: red, black and white.  The colors were created from the following: red from an iron oxide called hematite, or red ochre, white from gypsum or diatomaceous earth, and black from charcoal or from manganese oxide.

 

 

Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park - Sadly due to vandalism an iron gate was installed to keep people out.

Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park – Sadly due to vandalism an iron gate was installed to keep people out.

 

A heavy cast iron gate was installed on the cave to keep visitors from further disturbing the aging art. It is recommended that you bring a flashlight, the cave is dark and shaded. There are holes in the gate that allow you an opportunity to photograph the pictographs without the gate obscuring the view.

In person I wasn’t able to see the extensive amount of vandalism, it wasn’t until reviewing my photographs that it became apparent. I was appalled to find that this is one of most heavily vandalized rock art sites that I’ve ever seen. Every square inch of these designs have initials or foreign designs carved into them. The photographs below are zoomed in and cropped to show the extent of the vandalism.

 

Vandalized pictographs at Painted Cave State Historic Park.

Vandalized pictographs at Painted Cave State Historic Park.

 

Vandalized pictographs at Painted Cave State Historic Park.

Vandalized pictographs at Painted Cave State Historic Park.

 

Vandalized pictographs at Painted Cave State Historic Park.

Vandalized pictographs at Painted Cave State Historic Park.

 

Vandalized pictographs at Painted Cave State Historic Park.

Vandalized pictographs at Painted Cave State Historic Park.

 

 

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.