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Virtual Field Trip – The Great Cave Murals of Baja California

October 1 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm MST (Arizona)

This field trip is free and open to the public but you must preregister. Click here to Preregister. 

Hidden in the sierras of Baja California, in some of the most forbidding terrain, are thousands of brilliantly painted images and deeply etched petroglyphs that have survived for centuries in remote caves and shelters. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, there are more than 80 caves with layers of pictographs and numerous petroglyphs—many off limits to tourists or just too hard to get to. In March 2022, I was able to participate in a rigorous mule trip into these canyons and arroyos to see a small fraction of these ancient images. Guided by local vaqueros, riding mules, and accompanied by 12 burros who carried all our gear,  we stayed near ranchos down in three canyons where local Californios live in some of the most remote locations. This presentation will highlight portions of this incredible 20+ kilometer trip with a total elevation gain & loss of 10,000 feet, to see amazing pictographs that the Mexican archaeological bureau (INAH) dates to be more than 10,000 year old. In addition, you will learn about some of the ranch families who still live near the caves and how they survive in this challenging environment. Most people will not be able to visit these caves to see these amazing images, so this virtual field trip will give you the opportunity to see pictographs that are larger-than-life and include whales, turtles, manta rays, fish, eagles, deer, bighorns and giant people—more than 7-8 feet tall painted on cave ceilings and walls.

Tour Leader 

Kirk Astroth is a registered professional archaeologist and graduated from the University of Arizona in 2020 with a concentration on rock imagery. He is now retired, but is a former board member of AAHS, a former site steward, and a former volunteer in both the repository and conservation lab at the Arizona State Museum.  Kirk is an active member of the Utah Rock Art Research Association, the American Rock Art Research Association, and the San Diego Rock Art Association. He has volunteered on a number of rock art recording projects, including the Painted Rock Petroglyph Site, Nine Mile Canyon in Utah and the Middle Fork of the Powder River in Wyoming. He previously presented at an AAHS meeting about this latter experience.





October 1
11:00 am - 12:30 pm MST
Event Category:


Fran Maiuri