Coso Rock Art District

Coso Rock Art District
Coso Rock Art District
Bighorn sheep, a characteristic design at Coso
Nearest city: China Lake, California
Governing body: United States Navy
NRHP Reference#: 99001178
Significant dates
Added to NRHP: October 8, 1999[1]
Designated NHLD: July 8, 2001[2]
Big and Little Petroglyph Canyons
Archaic abstract curvilinear-style petroglyphs by Coso People
Nearest city: China Lake, California
Area: Coso Rock Art District
Governing body: United States Navy
NRHP Reference#: 66000209[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP: October 15, 1966
Designated NHL: July 19, 1964[2]

Coso Rock Art District, containing the Big and Little Petroglyph Canyons, is a rock art site containing over 20,000[3] of Paleo-Indian and/or Native American Petroglyphs The Coso Range is between the Sierra Nevada and the Argus Range. Indian Wells Valley lies to the south of this location. This north south trending range of about 400 square miles (1,000 km2) consists of rhyolitic domes and outcrops of volcanic rock. Also known as Little Petroglyph Canyon and Sand Tanks, Renegade Canyon is but one of several major canyons in the Coso Range, each hosting thousands of petroglyphs. The majority of the Coso Range images fall into one of six categories: bighorn sheep, entopic images, anthropomorphic or human-like figures, other animals, weapons & tools, and “medicine bag” images. Fortunately for the petroglyphs, most of the Coso Range is on the China Lakes Naval Weapons Base, visitation is restricted, vandalism is low, and preservation is most likely. the Coso People in the Coso Range Mountains of the northern Mojave Desert. They are now located within the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, near the towns of China Lake and Ridgecrest, California. There are several other distinct canyons to the Coso Rock Art District besides the Big and Little Petroglyph Canyons. The most popular subjects are bighorn sheep, deer, and antelope.[4]

Big and Little Petroglyph Canyons were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964. In 2001, they were incorporated into a larger National Historic Landmark District, called Coso Rock Art District.[2]

A November 2007 Los Angeles Times' Travel feature article includes it within a top 15 list of California places to visit.[5]


Prehistory detail

According to that article: "No one knows for sure who decorated Little Petroglyph Canyon with images out of a dreamscape, some thought to be more than 10,000 years old. Or why the basalt walls of a narrow wash in the bone-dry Coso Mountains at the northern edge of the Mojave Desert became a magic canvas for flocks of bighorn sheep, hunters with bows and arrows poised and more. But the area is probably the richest Amerindian Petroglyph / rock-art site in the Western hemisphere. To see the canyon, one must contact either the Navy Base, or join a scheduled tour offered by Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest, California. It's a rough 40-mile drive to the trailhead, followed by a hike and a scramble along the canyon. Visits are scheduled only in the spring and fall."[5]

There is considerable archaeological evidence substantiating trade between the Coso People, possibly of the Northern Paiute tribe, and other Indigenous peoples of the Americas and Native American tribes. For example, distant trade with the Chumash People is confirmed by archaeological recovery from coastal California sites in San Luis Obispo County.[6]

See also

Petroglyphs Tour Info

Note: only U.S. citizens are allowed on the tours, and advance reservation is required. [5]
  • Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores Ave., Ridgecrest, CA 93555; (760) 375-6900, [2].
  • Naval Air Weapons Station, (760) 939-1683.


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ a b c "Coso Rock Art District". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  3. ^ NPS Redbook[dead link]
  4. ^ NHL Writeup[dead link]
  5. ^ a b c Susan Spano (2007-11-15). "10. Mojave Art on the Rocks, in "THE GOLDEN 15: 15 places to visit to see the real California"". Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ C.Michael Hogan (2008) Morro Creek, The Megalithic Portal, ed. by A. Burnham [1]

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Rock art of the Chumash people — Painted Cave, Santa Barbara County, California Chumash rock art is a genre of paintings on caves, mountains, cliffs, or other living rock surfaces, created by the Chumash people of southern California. Pictographs and petroglyphs are common… …   Wikipedia

  • Coso Volcanic Field — A basaltic lava flow that is typical of the process that created the stepped terraces of Coso as it flowed across the landscape, producing a more or less flat surface eroding to a sheer front …   Wikipedia

  • Coso people — The Coso people are an indigenous people of the Americas and Native American tribe associated with the Coso Range in the Mojave Desert of California in the southwestern U.S.. They are of the Uto Aztecan language and spoke one of several Numic… …   Wikipedia

  • Coso Range — Coordinates: 36°8′29.796″N 117°41′23.252″W / 36.14161°N 117.68979222°W / 36.14161; 117.68979222 …   Wikipedia

  • Art rupestre — préhistorique de la vallée du Côa …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Modoc Rock Shelter — U.S. National Register of Historic Places U.S. National Historic Landmark …   Wikipedia

  • Durango Rock Shelters Archeology Site — U.S. National Register of Historic Places Nearest city: Durango …   Wikipedia

  • Ridgecrest, California — City of Ridgecrest   City   View of Ridgecrest …   Wikipedia

  • Visual arts by indigenous peoples of the Americas — encompasses the visual artistic traditions of the indigenous peoples of the Americas from ancient times to the present. These include works from South America, Mesoamerica, North America including Greenland, as well as Siberian Yup ik peoples who …   Wikipedia

  • Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake — For other uses, see China Lake (disambiguation). Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake IATA: none – ICAO: KNID – FAA LID: NID …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.