Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park, Santa Barbara

3.3
#4 of 6 in Nature 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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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 3.5
55 reviews
Google
4.3
TripAdvisor
  • The cave paintings were interesting; but there is not much else to see and do in this park. There are other interesting things to do in the area such as Knapp Castle so if you combine these with the c...  more »
  • Great site. The paintings have been preserved by a less than cool iron grating but it does the job of keeping the crazies away from the art. Nice day trip and you can combine with a lunch trip to Cold...  more »
  • 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 »
Google
  • It is about a 25 minute drive from downtown Santa Barbara. We drove all the way up though, and the cave has been closed off in order to protect it from the Thomas Fire. There were no signs letting us know this on the drive up. Not too disappointed because the views of the coast were absolutely beautiful from the lookout points. Wait to visit after the Thomas Fire has been contained. Road is very winding and it is recommended to drive slow. But it is not as terrible as other people have described it. The road is usually wide enough for 1.5-2 cars all the way up. There is minimal parking by the cave entrance (you have to pull off on the side of the road). There is about enough room for 2-3 cars to park on the side of the road.
  • There is no real place to park so your car is sitting on this one lane road around a curve. People drive like maniacs there and I was so afraid someone was going to come flying around the curve at 100 mph and plow right into my car. The caves were a magnificent site to see. I wish people had more respect so they didn't have to put a huge, hideous cage up.
  • Gorgeous drive up to the cave. It is a windy and smaller road. Larger vehicles not advised. There is very minimal parking so try to go during non peak hours. The cave itself is locked so you can't actually go into the cave but the drawings are visible and awesome to see.
  • Our family loved the quick stop. Just park on the side of the road where the sign of the cave is. There's no mark parking area. It was worth the 20 min drive from the 101 highway.
  • The area is beautiful. The cave small and fenced. It is not easy to take pictures. Definitely worth to visit.
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