Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park, Santa Barbara

3.3
#15 of 17 in Parks in Santa Barbara
Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park is a unit in the state park system of California, preserving a small sandstone cave adorned with rock art attributed to the Chumash people. Adjoining the small community of Painted Cave, the site is located about 2mi north of California State Route 154 and 11mi northwest of Santa Barbara. The 7.5acre park was established in 1976.The smooth and irregularly shaped shallow sandstone cave contains numerous drawings apparently depicting the Chumash cosmology and other subjects created in mineral pigments and other media over a long period ranging from about 200 up to possibly 1000 years or more. There is also evidence of graffiti beginning with early white settlers, which eventually led to creation of a protective physical barrier and State Historic Park status. In 1972 it was added as Site #72000256 on the National Register of Historical Places.Access is from State Route 154 about 5mi north of U.S. Route 101 in the San Marcos Pass in the Santa Ynez Mountains, driving 2mi north on Painted Cave Road. The cave is adjacent to the left side of this narrow one-lane mountain road, with a slightly widened shoulder that provides parking for one or two vehicles. The drive is not appropriate for trailers and RVs, due to some very tight turns and steep sections. Park by a sign describing the cave's Chumash Artists and look for the cave above the road. The art is very close to the road up a trail that includes a few short stairs with a metal handrail, ending on a landing at metal gate protecting the cave entrance. The gate is made in such a way that viewing and photography is convenient for people of any height.
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Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park Reviews
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4.3
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  • August 15, 2017
    Worth it. Paintings of undetermined age. Glad they are protecting the site. Right next to the road. Go when the fog has lifted for some great scenic views.  more »
  • August 14, 2017
    While the road is narrow and we gripped our seats the last 2 miles, getting up close to original Indian art in its true location was worth it. We followed it by a trip to the SB mission and learned ev...  more »
  • July 5, 2017
    Long windy one way road, leading to a small, less than impressive cave, locked with a metal gate, that has only a small window to see the painting. Very limited parking, for 1 maybe 2 cars.  more »
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  • March 28, 2017
    It's not the most exciting historic spot but the history is amazing! The drive is absolutely gorgeous and exhilarating (very high, skinny road, and lots of hard to see around the corner turns). I recommend going around March when all the wildflowers are bloomed!!
  • November 9, 2016
    Awesome cave painting. Actual cave is gated and locked. So you can't enter but there's a convenient hole for you to stick your hand and phone in to take a picture of the cave art. I was expecting more but there are only 2 main pieces of art in a small "cave". The"parking" spot is only big enough for 2 cars really and road is really a one car road, fits 2 cars if you squeeze. Cool place to drive through nonetheless
  • September 15, 2016
    It's just one tiny cave, open, you can't go on, since there's a gate with lock to avoid people from doing that. There's no parking available, you park on the side of a very narrow road, no signs letting you know the cave is coming up (you blink and may miss it). On a funny/ironic side note, the paintings (beautiful, I really enjoyed being able to observe them so close!!), are reddish. And on top of the surrounding rocks, inside the fated area, there was what it looked like a tiny round container that seemed to be one of those restaurants use to pour ketchup in!!
  • September 30, 2016
    Historic painted cave. Worth driving by especially the road is such a nice drive. There is a space to park two cars but generally not busy. I strongly recommend passing by if you are in the area
  • February 22, 2017
    Nice stop near the road. It also is great for hiking.

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