With more than 100,000 petroglyphs, or Native American Rock Art, enveloped within the mighty walls of Little Petroglyph Canyon, the word “little” is hardly the adjective that comes to mind.
Just a little over an hour north of Lancaster, and east of Bakersfield, The Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake is home to the Native American art form dated over 10,000 years old, and the tours of art from ancient California peoples is within a secure and protected area. The guided tours are limited because of demand and stringent security measures, since the area is on a U.S. military base. Since the petroglyph tours are expected to sell out, those who want to visit the petroglyph tours on base are urged to make their tour reservations immediately with the Maturango Museum (www.maturango.org) who handles the coordination of the tours.
“Walking amongst the sun-drenched canyons once traveled by the Coso native peoples over 10,000 years ago, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time,” says Doug Lueck, executive director of the Ridgecrest Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Experiencing the wonder of the petroglyphs that inhabit the area in their natural state is an awe-inspiring and some say, a spiritual experience that defies description.”
Since the area was developed by the United States Navy in the early 40’s. Ridgecrest’s China Lake is the Navy’s largest single landholding in the country. This fortunate coincidence keeps the petroglyphs and the area in its pristine and original condition because of its location within the base. And because the tours are within a secure area of the base, the tours require approval by the Navy for admittance, and all visitors must be vetted well in advance.
Interest in Ridgecrest is growing because of the brain trust of scientists, engineers, and other technology professionals who work on the base, which makes the community unique and highly valuable. The festival is not only being lauded for celebrating the Native American contributions to culture within the region, but also because of the importance of preserving some of California’s earliest civilization artifacts.
The Ridgecrest area has the largest collection of original petroglyphs in the Western Hemisphere, and the Ridgecrest Petroglyph Festival is generating tremendous interest. The canyon tours during the festival, being held on November 15-16, 2014, are expected to sell out quickly. “As of mid early September, many of the tour dates are already 50% filled,” Lueck says. He cautions those who have not made reservations already, to do so immediately.
For those who are unable to make the trip to the canyons, Lueck says there are plenty of other activities the entire family can enjoy during the festival. “The Ridgecrest Petroglyph Festival will have an Inter-tribal Pow Wow, a street festival, a family fun zone, arts and crafts, film screenings, education lectures and the dedication of the newly developed Petroglyph Park,” Lueck said.
The Ridgecrest Petroglyph Festival, less than half a tank of gas northeast of Los Angeles, and can be reached within a few hours of most large California cities.
The festival will attract those who love the outdoors and appreciate history, nature and the environment. “With historic and education programs that will stimulate young minds with science, history and the desert, as well as the fun and entertaining street festival and Pow Wow, The Ridgecrest Petroglyph Festival is a perfect alternative to run-of-the-mill attractions and will be a new and exciting experience that will engage every member of your family,” Lueck concludes.
Free festival tickets and Pow Wow tickets available at rpfestival.com.
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