Rock Art Gallery
Cochimi Petroglyphs & Pictographs in Northern Baja
Pictograph photographs at Arroyo El Palmerito, Cataviña, Baja California Norte.  Click on any photo to enlarge.

The El Palmerito pictograph site is located along the Trans Peninsular Highway, a few kilometers west of Cataviña, Baja California Norte, Mexico. The site is in a large rock pile of decomposing granite boulders situated along Arroyo El Palmerito. This area is noted for numerous boulder piles that reach 30 meters in height and often contain small caves and rock shelters. The El Palmerito site is a rock shelter consisting of a tunnel about 3 meters long, 2 meters wide, and 1.5 meters high at the apex. The shelter was formed when a massive boulder came to rest on smaller surrounding boulders. All the rock art at this site are pictographs painted in red, orange, yellow, black and white. Most of the images are painted on the ceiling and sloping sides of the shelter.

Little archaeological work has been published about El Palmerito and surrounding sites. Northern Baja was occupied by different peoples for 9000 years (estimated), and by the Cochimi for past several thousand years. The Cochimi are probably the authors of the rock art petroglyphs and pictographs that are found from Loreto north into Southern California.       Next 6 photos

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The pictograph site is near the top right. Recent graffiti can be seen on the boulders causing concern for the future of this site. This is probably the most often photographed pictograph panel on the entire Baja.
baja_pictoglyphs_mexico pictographs_north_baja_mexico
These amorphic shapes in red seem to be superimposed over faint orange-red & black images. The red may be longer lasting. This Cochimi polychrome sunburst has been compared to similar Kumeyaay pictographs at Indian Hill, California.
arroyo_el_palmerito_rock_art el_palmerito_pictogrsphs_catavina_bc
In late December 2004, Arroyo El Palmarito was a foot deep and running swiftly across the highway. Pictographs inside the rock shelter suffer from smoke damage, lichen growth, water drip, and mud splash.


Pictograph photographs at La Bocana, Cataviña, Baja California Norte.  Click on any photo to enlarge.

Arroyo La Bocana flows northeast to southwest from La Alguatosa to the Pacific Ocean. About 25 Km west of Cataviña, La Bocana passes between two towering granite masses. At this point the arroyo is only 25 meters wide and the arroyo walls rise straight up for 150 meters. The La Bocana pictograph site is located on the flat faces of two boulders flanking a cleft in the rock. These pictographs are not protected from wind, rain, sun and blowing sand; as a result many are very faint and will soon become invisible. The only discernable pigment colors are red and yellow, and the style use to create them is different than those at nearby El Palmerito. A local informant said the site was documented by a government archaeologist who estimated the rock art to be 300 to 500 years old. Visiting this site requires a handiness with a machete to cut a path through the sticker brush while wading through knee deep water and avoiding snakes.     Next 4 photos

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Pictographs in yellow and red are on flat vertical faces of boulders at this site. The red and yellow pigments on this and other La Bocana rock faces are badly weathered.
catavina_baja_mexico_rock_art_petroglyph La_Bocana_pictograph_rock_art
The pictograph elements are abstract and geometric. This geometric design is a different style than the designs at the nearby El Palmerito site.


Petroglyph and photographs at San Fernando Velicata, Baja California Norte.  Click on any photo to enlarge.

Located 60 kilometers northwest of Cataviña is the petroglyph site at San Fernando Velicata. The petroglyphs are located on two granite outcrops on both sides of a narrow arroyo. A mission was established here in 1768 by the Jesuits when the Valley was then inhabited by an estimated 1500 Guiricata Indians. Petroglyph depictions of Spanish crosses are attributed to the mission period.

Many petroglyphs at this site were destroyed by the missionaries who quarried the granite cliffs for material to construct a viaduct for irrigating their fields. Most of the remaining petroglyphs are abstract curvilinear and geometric designs; representational human images account for 15% of the petroglyphs and animals only 5%; there are four red painted pictographs remaining along with some red stains on the rock that may have been pictographs at one time. Earl Jones (1978) recorded 96 elements in 74 petroglyphs at San Fernando Velicata.     Next 6 photos

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Most of the petroglyphs are along this cliff. The missionaries remove some of the stone to build a viaduct (lower left) to the mission. Today little remains of the mission.
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Petroglyphs are pecked and scratched just deep enough to contrast with the granite rock surface. This may be a depiction of a Spanish ship which were known to deliver supplies at El Rosario.
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There are four faint pictographs at the site. Remnant of the stone lined viaduct.

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