Sunday, July 18, 2010

Volcanic Tableland Petroglyphs

Only a few miles north of Bishop is the Volcanic Tableland, a landscape of Bishop Tuff rock, formed by super-heated ash spewing from the Long Valley Caldera 750,000 years ago. Around 8,800 years ago, predecessors of the Paiute-Shoshone peoples seasonally inhabited the Tablelands and left petroglyphs throughout the area. Four areas are marked and easily accessible from Fish Slough Road and Highway 6. We spent just a short time at each site, but I'd like to return when the weather is cooler. The mid-day lighting wasn't the best for taking pictures, but I hope these few shots give you a feel for the mystery of the sites. Clicking on the thumbnails may help you make out the petroglyphs in some of the images.

The Fish Slough Petroglyphs encompass a small site. Mortar holes are ground into the rock beneath an overhang, providing shade for the milling of seed or pinyon nuts. Ducking beneath to feel the change in temperature, I came across a desert spiny lizard (Sceloporus magister) apparently doing the same thing.

bisected circle
a common design
a celestial or map?
desert spiny lizard
Sceloporus magister
zebra-tailed lizard
Callisaurus draconoides rhodostictus

The Chidago site contains more images covering a jumbled pile of rock.


The Red Canyon site impressed me the most. The images were the most varied we experienced.


The Chidago Petroglyphs were in a paler rock along a wash. It's impressive that they remain at all. We spooked a poor black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), but I snapped a quick picture before we went to find shade like he did.


Because we were in the area, I took Brent to see the Owens pupfish and took this picture of a happy fishy face.

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