Blythe Intaglios, Blythe

4.2
#12 of 19 in Historic Sites in California Desert
The Blythe Intaglios or Blythe Geoglyphs are a group of gigantic figures incised on the ground near Blythe, California in the Colorado Desert. The ground drawings or geoglyphs were created by humans for an, as of yet, unknown reason. The intaglios are located east of the Big Maria Mountains, about 15mi north of downtown Blythe, just west of U.S. Highway 95 near the Colorado River. The Blythe Intaglios are the most well-known of the over 200 intaglios in the Colorado Desert. The Colorado Desert contains the only known desert intaglios in North America. These intaglios are mostly located along the Colorado River. The Blythe Intaglios contain three human figures, two four-legged animals, and a spiral; although Harner (1953) reported two spirals. The largest human figure in the Blythe Intaglio group is 171ft long. The intaglios are best viewed from the air.Geoglyphs are found throughout the world, the construction methods range from earthern mounds, piles of stone, or the removal of surface plants or soil. The most famous desert intaglios are the Nazca Lines in Peru. The Blythe Geoglyphs or intaglios (anthropomorphic geoglyphs) were created by scraping away layers of darker rocks or pebbles to reveal a stratum of lighter-valued soil. The displaced rocks outlined the figures and the exposed soil was stamped down which makes it more difficult for plants to grow in the lines. The intaglios are located on flat terraces in the Colorado River floodplain. While these "gravel pictographs" are found through the deserts of southeastern California, human figures are found only near the Colorado River. Other intaglios depict mountain lions, birds, snakes, and unidentified zoomorphic and geometric shapes. The figures are so immense that many of them were not observed by non-Indians until the 1930s. The set of Blythe Intaglios and nearby geoglyphs include several dozen figures, thought to be ceremonial in nature. No Colorado River Native American group has claimed to have made the intaglios, although some have claimed to use them. Many of the intaglios are believed to date from the prehistoric period, but their age and the identity of their creators are still uncertain. If the quadruped figures represent horses (reintroduced in North America by the Spanish) then a historical date would be supported. Jay von Werlhof and his collaborators obtained 13 AMS radiocarbon dates for the figures, ranging from 900 BCE to 1200 CE.
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Blythe Intaglios Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
35 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • It was not that far out of Blyth. Just look for Huge sign that says Blythe Intaglios on the Left if you are going towards Needles. The road was dirt and rocks. We do not have a four wheel drive and to...  more »
  • About 15 miles north of Blythe is a marker and a sign for the intaglios. The dirt road is well maintained any car can navigate it. We went to 3 of the 4. Easy walk to the fenced in sites. We thought t...  more »
  • Hard to find and not much to look at once you got there. There were two fenced in areas that I could see and I did not think the trip was worth it.  more »
Google
  • Very cool to see. Pretty easy to get to with Google maps. Can't really seem them to well from the ground but they are small enough to get the idea. Worth a quick trip.
  • What a unique experience. Nice gem in the desert. I can only imagine the reason for these intaglios.
  • A unique and one of a kind place to visit. The best times to explore and experience are early morning and late afternoon when natures light provides the best effects. An ancient mystery that must be seen to appreciate.
  • Worth the quick stop if your driving by. Not sure I'd go out of my way to see it.
  • I give this 5 stars but only...IF YOU HAVE A DRONE. They are located 15 miles north of Blythe CA and are easy to find. It is pretty country out there and is somewhat desolate. When I went there, there was not a soul around which is great. When I walked up to them, I was very disappointed as you can barely make out the figures from the ground. However, when I launched my drone and got it up in the air, the view was spectacular. I flew around and took a lot of pictures and video. It is the most fun I've ever had with my drone and is the best place to fly a drone I've ever seen. If you don't have a drone, these geoglyphs are worth seeing, but not nearly as interesting.
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