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Petroglyph Point and Petroglyph Bluff Hike

Lava Beds National Monument

Warner Mountains + Modoc Plateau, California

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Petroglyph Point and Petroglyph Bluff Hike

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  • The paved road becomes gravel as it approaches Petroglyph Point.- Petroglyph Point and Petroglyph Bluff Hike
  • An informational kiosk marks the parking area beside the petroglyphs.- Petroglyph Point and Petroglyph Bluff Hike
  • Signs describe the history of the area.- Petroglyph Point and Petroglyph Bluff Hike
  • Due to vandalism, visitors must view the pictographs from behind a chain-link fence.- Petroglyph Point and Petroglyph Bluff Hike
  • Petroglyphs here have suffered severe defacement.- Petroglyph Point and Petroglyph Bluff Hike
  • Petroglyphs.- Petroglyph Point and Petroglyph Bluff Hike
  • Signage along the area.- Petroglyph Point and Petroglyph Bluff Hike
  • The Petroglyph Bluff hike follows a straightforward path to the top of the bluff.- Petroglyph Point and Petroglyph Bluff Hike
  • Soft dirt makes up most of the surface for the hike.- Petroglyph Point and Petroglyph Bluff Hike
  • A sign marks the end of the hiking path atop the bluff.- Petroglyph Point and Petroglyph Bluff Hike
  • Views from atop Petroglyph Bluff.- Petroglyph Point and Petroglyph Bluff Hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great place to watch birds and raptors.
Cons: 
Vandalism.
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Region:
Warner Mountains + Modoc Plateau, CA
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

Petroglyph Point and the Petroglyph Bluff Hike are two features of the Lava Beds National Monument, though they are located several miles outside of the core area of the national monument.

While there are pictographs located throughout the cave areas near the core of the national monument, the collection of rock art on Petroglyph Point is particularly dense. It is one of the highest concentrations of Native American rock art in California, and it is extremely simple to access. The tall landmass on which the petroglyphs are drawn was once an island surrounded by the water of what is now called Tule Lake. This rock tuff was accessed by tribal peoples in canoes, which has led to the petroglyphs being located at differing heights along the rock face. Though an accurate age cannot be determined, it's estimated that the rock art is up to around 6,000 years old.

On the negative side, its isolation and ease of access has also made the petroglyph area a target for vandals. And far more visible than actual indigenous petroglyphs is the graffiti of people who have defaced them. A simple chain-link fence now stands several feet away from the wall in an attempt to keep people from accessing the stone surface, but the writing of those who have carved their initials and other shapes onto the stone tend to dominate the views.

The bulk of the petroglyphs are located adjacent to a wide pullout that can accommodate cars and RVs and is marked by an interpretive sign explaining some of the area's history.

About 500 feet north of this point, the gravel road wraps around the northern end of the landmass, where a short trail will take you to the top of the bluff for views of the surrounding areas. The trail is cut short atop the bluff with a sign asking that hikers respect the significance of the land to native cultures and the nesting raptor populations farther along the bluff and proceed no further out. This makes the round-trip hike only about 0.4 miles.

The hike itself is a short climb up soft dirt, but despite the elevation gain, the very short distance should make it accessible to anyone of fair hiking abilities.

Aside from a trash can and vault toilet near the petroglyphs, there are no amenities of any type in the area. There is no shade along the hike, so be prepared when hiking in the warmer months.

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(11 within a 30 mile radius)

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