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Blythe Intaglios, Blythe

Ruin · Hidden Gem · Mysterious Site
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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 yet, unknown reason.

The intaglios are located east of the Big Maria Mountains, about 15 miles (24 km) 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 171 feet (52 m) long. The intaglios are best viewed from the air.

Geoglyphs are found throughout the world, the construction methods ranging from earthen 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-natives 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.
For travelers who use our custom trip planner, Blythe holidays become easier to arrange, with trips to the Blythe Intaglios and other attractions mapped out and timetabled.
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Blythe Intaglios reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.0
49 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • Walked in because the road was kind of Rocky, but it was possible with a regular car or van. I think pictographs are easier to believe from ancient people than the ground scratchings are. My opinion.....  more
    Walked in because the road was kind of Rocky, but it was possible with a regular car or van. I think pictographs are easier to believe from ancient people than the ground scratchings are. My opinion.....  more »
  • This was an enjoyable experience learning about these formations and the history behind them! Amazingly we've been through this area before and didn't realize they were there. 
    This was an enjoyable experience learning about these formations and the history behind them! Amazingly we've been through this area before and didn't realize they were there.  more »
  • Thought we could get up close and see the figures. Found turnoff on highway and found that some dirt bag had stolen the plaque on the monument. Dirt road to follow with some signage and a fence... 
    Thought we could get up close and see the figures. Found turnoff on highway and found that some dirt bag had stolen the plaque on the monument. Dirt road to follow with some signage and a fence...  more »
Google
  • Is worth every bit of time and effort to see them…visited the three that are fenced in but there are more further along. The fenced in ones are easily accessed even with a regular two-wheel drive, the furtherest…it would be better with four. Beautiful, haunting, mysterious and… thought provoking.
  • Very interesting remote site.. you have to drive on a dirt road but as long as you go slow it's perfectly safe. The Intagilos are shallow impressions in the desert floor.. if you are a rock hound there are many types to check out..
  • What an excellent side trip into ancient history. The intaglio sculpture designs are created by scraping back the dark topsoil in a pattern to show the lighter soil underneath. Amazing designs that are hard to see from ground level and excellent to see by drone. Our visit was a 112 degree day.
  • Amazing site. The history of Intaglios, world wide is amazing. People spend thousands of dollars to see the Intaglios in South America, and yet haven’t seen these. If you’re interested a flight from the Blythe Airport can overfly these and the Ripley Intaglios. To the Ripley Intaglios is a difficult climb. A helicopter can land at the Ripley site. Of course you can see them on Google Earth.
  • We pulled off the I-95 on the route between Las Vegas, NV and Blythe, CA to check out the drawings. Kind of cool to see the impressions in the ground, which are all gated off, and the possible explanations on the nearby signage. It was a good excuse to stretch our legs for a minute while we checked out the area.

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