Photo: Painted Rock Self Guided Tour

Carrizo Plain National Monument Tours, CA

Painted Rock Self Guided Tour

Historic Tour
1 hr. 30 min.



The Painted Rock pictograph site on the Carrizo Plain is recognized internationally as among the best examples of rock art in the world. It is visually stunning but also imbued with meaning and spiritual values still held by contemporary Native American people. When visiting this site, special care is necessary to insure the preservation of the rock paintings and in order to maintain respect for the sacred setting. We hope that you will have an opportunity to experience this special place. Please help us preserve and protect Painted Rock for the benefit of future generations through your stewardship.
  • Painted Rock has sustained much damage due to vandalism and weathering during the last century. Please help us preserve what remains of the pictographs at this significant site.
  • Stay on the central dirt footpath within the alcove.
  • Above all, don't touch the rock surface anywhere at the site, even those areas where there are no visible paintings. The sandstone is extremely fragile, and contact with the surface may damage the mineral crust that protects the paintings and the rock surface from erosion.
  • Don't mark the rock surface anywhere at the site with scratching, drawing, painting, etc.
  • Don't climb or walk on any of the rock surfaces. These areas may contain paintings and this contact also damages the sandstone.
  • Several species of birds nest and roost on the rock, both within the alcove and around the exterior. Please maintain a peaceful setting for their well being.
  • Don't move, stack or rearrange stones at the site.
  • Don't place stones or offerings within the cracks or ledges of the sandstone outcrop anywhere at the site.
  • Don't place caches at or around the site.
  • Please respect closure notices. Due to nesting birds or other sensitive resource concerns, all or portions of the site may be sometimes closed. This site is under surveillance by BLM law enforcement personnel and unauthorized entry will be prosecuted under Federal regulations 43 CFR 8364.1 (d).
  • Cultural sites on Federal lands like Painted Rock are all legally protected under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. Violation could result in fines and imprisonment.
By booking this tour you agree to follow the above rules and enforce these restrictions on all members of your party.

Ticket Availability


Tour Description

The sandstone formation at Painted Rock has long drawn the attention of Carrizo Plain visitors. About 3,000 - 4,000 years ago, Native Americans began to paint their sacred images within the alcove of the rock. Not surprisingly, the power of this place continues to enthrall, and it still receives many visitors today.The Painted Rock Self Guided Tour Gives you a unique experience you cannot get any other place in the world. It is a 1.4 mile round trip hike where you get to experience Painted rock and its wonderful Native American Pictographs

Painted Rock Self Guided Tour is offered 7 days a week from July 16th to February 28th/29th.

Tour Details

  • Duration: 1 hr. 30 min.
  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Accessible: No
  • Effort: Moderate

Know Before You Go

Wear sturdy shoes for hiking. Bring lunch and plenty of water. Carpool whenever possible. Be prepared for intense heat and sun; bring a hat and sunscreen. There is a possibility of muddy roads and changeable weather. Pets are not allowed at Painted Rock. Rattlesnakes are commonly seen on the trail and at Painted Rock.

  • Dont deface cultural sites by carving, painting, drawing or shooting.
  • Dont dig or otherwise disturb the ground surface in or near cultural sites.
  • Dont touch or climb sandstone outcrops, many of which contain cultural features. Contact with the sandstone damages the mineral crust which protects the stone from erosion.
  • Dont move, remove or arrange stones, wood or other features. The precise original location of objects is important to our understanding of their significance.
  • Dont damage historical buildings and objects by climbing or entering them.
  • Dont disturb nesting birds, bats or other wildlife.
  • Dont place caches in or near cultural sites.
  • Please respect closure orders. These areas are closed to protect exceptionally sensitive cultural and natural resources. Unauthorized entry will be prosecuted under Federal regulations 43 CFR 8364.1 (d).
  • Cultural sites on Federal lands are legally protected under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and violation could result in fines and imprisonment.
  • Please assist us in protecting these often fragile and vulnerable places by being good stewards of your public lands.


There is an Accessible Restroom at the trail head but the trail itself is not.


The only aminity this tour has in a restroom at the trailhead. There is no water.


If you are approaching from Highway 58, we are located east of Santa Margarita and west of McKittrick. Turn south off of Hwy. 58 onto Soda Lake Road and continue for 13 miles, then turn right onto Painted Rock Road. If you are approaching from Highway 166/33, Soda Lake Road is near the top of the grade north of Cuyama and south of Maricopa. Look for the now-closed Reye's Station (the relict Union 76 gas station), which is at the intersection of Hwy. 166/33 and Soda Lake Road. Follow Soda Lake Road northwest for approximately 30 miles, then turn left onto Painted Rock Road.

Important Information: Tour dates earlier than the reservation are not available at Carrizo Plain National Monument. Also, there are no first-come first-served tours available at Carrizo Plain National Monument. All tour reservation must be booked through

Note: Some Tours may be available only from the Tour Park on a first-come-first-served basis. Arrival dates earlier than the online-reservation-window may also be available at the Tour Park.
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