Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
No
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park harbors mesmerizing Native American pictographs in a sandstone cave. Located in the Santa Ynez Mountains, a short scenic drive from Santa Barbara, it is a remarkable and family-friendly area to explore.

There is parking along Painted Cave Road, however, be sure to come early as parking is limited and spaces tend to fill up during the summer months. The cave may be reached via a brief uphill stroll from the parking area. There is plenty of shade, and the route is well marked with informational signs along the way.

The inside of the cave preserves ancient paintings created by the Chumash Native Americans. Charcoal was used to create the black pigment, red ochre for the red, and powdered shells for the white. It has been speculated that the artists were shamans who visited the cave for spiritual reasons. Anthropologists believe that one of the black circles may represent a solar eclipse that took place in A.D. 1677, however, the true meaning behind the pictographs is unknown due to the lack of knowledge regarding the Chumash way of life.

Please note that flash photography is prohibited inside the cave, as it can damage the pictographs. Alternatives include using a flashlight to illuminate the art or taking a long-exposure photograph.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall
Winter

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Pictographs. Cave.

Cons

Little parking available.

Features

Historically significant
Family friendly
Cave
Native artifacts

Access

Vehicle

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California
Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California
Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California

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