Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park, Santa Barbara

(2.5/5 based on 45+ reviews on the web)
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. 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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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • We all absolutely loved visiting this historical site. The drive up and down the mountain is exhilarating! At one point we were up in the clouds and felt a clear temperature change. This is absolutely...  more »
  • The road is truly a scary experience. Only room for one vehicle and few places where people can get by. We had several close calls with vehicles coming down where we were fortunate to find places to s...  more »
  • There is a single very narrow road branching off from 254 in the Ynez valley leading out of Santa Barbara. The road is extremely windy with many hairpin and blind loops. There are walls of rocks in ma...  more »