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“Nice detour”

Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park
Ranked #69 of 177 things to do in Santa Barbara
Attraction details
San Francisco, California
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Nice detour”
Reviewed August 5, 2013

If you are on your way to Solvang or Lake Cachuma like we were, it's a nice detour. Narrow windy road up the side of a mountain. There is enough room for 2 people to part in front of the cave. Other than that you need to go find a spot and hike to it. Not sure if its worth that. Would rather do the trails in the hills north of Santa Barbara if I'm going for a hike.

Visited July 2013
Thank JonWagner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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53 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
St. Petersburg, Florida
Level 5 Contributor
74 reviews
29 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Getting there is half the fun”
Reviewed July 20, 2013

What an adventure! The road is narrow, winding and has a cliff with no rail! You share it with cyclists, joggers, tourists and locals who play chicken. Well worth it though as the cave itself and the paintings are amazing. Stop at the lookouts and enjoy the view.

Visited July 2013
2 Thank Anna D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego
Level 6 Contributor
93 reviews
46 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 88 helpful votes
“Small cave, nice drive, short visit”
Reviewed July 4, 2013

The Chumash Painted cave is a single small cave with pictographs. No fees. No wheelchair access. You have to climb some stone steps to get up to the cave. There is a grated doorway sealing it off from entry, although there are holes to aim your camera through to get pictures. Sadly, there is a lot of graffiti over the art. (Could people at least have made their own mark somewhere else on the wall?). The road leading up to it is narrow and windy and you have to watch out for bikes, and locals who drive pretty fast. There is parking for 2 or 3 cars. For anyone who likes petroglyphs and pictographs, it's a different type of art than most you see. The sandstone cave itself is fascinating if you like geology. Don't expect much, you won't be disappointed.

Visited July 2013
6 Thank Ghostwheel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
214 reviews
66 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
“Wonderful cave paintings but the road is not for the weak”
Reviewed June 30, 2013 via mobile

I loved this little touch of antiquity but the road up was twisty, narrow and on the side of the mountain. Worth the trip if you find this kind of thing fAscinating.

Visited June 2013
3 Thank Tjshade
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Olivos, Ca
Level 6 Contributor
75 reviews
33 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
“cherish the cavern”
Reviewed March 23, 2013

The best known, most easily accessible local cave painting site. If you haven't visited this magical, spiritual cavern two miles off San Marcos Pass on the Santa Barbara side of the eclectic community of the same name, go now. You will return a wiser, more thoughtful person.
The shallow cave, a State Historic Park, is marked with a sign, and located a few feet up the hill, just off Painted Cave Road. There's a gate to prevent vandalism, but the paintings are easily visible. Take a flashlight to see more details. Look for the black disc with white border, thought by some to depict a solar eclipse that occurred November 24, 1677.
From Point Conception to the Carrizo Plain, from Tepusquet Canyon to Ojai, the enigmatic paintings color secluded sandstone hollows. There are bizarre anthropomorphic spacemen, geometric designs, condors, bears, mandalas, beheaded figures, men on horseback, perhaps eclipses. Mysterious images by the thousands, scattered across hundreds of miles of the Central Coast. Are they the work of Chumash shamans, idle artistry, or historical records? Is this ritual hunting magic, an astrological observatory, a vision quest, or a diary? Scholars have debated their meaning for years without consensus, but one thing is sure: they are a fascinating glimpse into a lost world. Campbell Grant's 1965 book The Rock Paintings of the Chumash is still the definitive tome on the subject, although traditional Chumash groups hotly contest Grant's conclusions regarding the destruction of their culture. Large paintings recreated from his book can be found at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.
The mountains ringing the Valley abound in rock art sites. Most locations are carefully guarded secrets, due to the fragile nature of the art. As the Forest Service notes, "one person, in one day, can do more damage than centuries of natural erosion." Dust alone is a threat to the paintings.

Visited March 2013
13 Thank valleynotebook
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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