Fish Slough Petroglyphs

Round Trip Distance: 0.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 4222 - 4229 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Fish Slough Road MM 6.8
Fee: none
Attractions: petroglyphs, calendar site

The Fish Slough Petroglyph Site is located 12 miles north of Bishop, California, just off of the Fish Slough Road. Scores of petroglyphs can be found on many of the scattered basalt boulders in the area. Of special interest is a large slab of rock that has a number of holes, that among other possible uses, may have been part of a solar calendar similar to one that is found at the Lookout Point site near Rangeley, Colorado.

For those coming from the north the Fish Slough Petroglyphs are 1.3 miles south of the turnoff to the Fish Slough Caves. If driving up the Fish Slough Road from Bishop, zero your odometer as you turn onto the Fish Slough Road and measure 6.75 miles to the trailhead, which is only a couple hundred feet off of the road and very obvious. We circled some of the boulders that have petroglyphs mostly to point out that some of them are further off to the right away from what may be termed the main boulder. The arrow all the way on the left is pointing at the large horizontal slab that has a dozen or so holes pounded into its surface.

Directly across from the parking area there is a large horizontal slab of basalt that is perched above the ground like a table. There are a couple of crossed circles and other faint markings that at first seem to be a bit of a let down for expectant visitors.

Walking around to the backside of the boulder reveals a panel of images that reaches from one end of the rock to the other.

Here the variety of images are tightly packed together in places and include things like little human like figures, atlatls, snakes and other shapes and lines.

Walking a little to the south from that boulder leads to the calendar slab which is best seen from above.

The pattern of some of the holes closely matches that patterns found at the Lookout Point site in Colorado that we mentioned. At that site a test was done where they inserted into the hole wooden poles that were about 3 and a half feet in length. They found that the holes with an east west bearing indicated the spring and fall equinoxes. The hole, that we circled in white, that is in a separate boulder by itself, probably would have held the pole that cast the shadow for the summer solstice. There are other aspects of the boulder, that for us at least, are puzzling, like the dished out groove on the west end of the slab.

From the spot overlooking the calendar it is easy enough to walk north across the small rise to the other area with petroglyphs.

As you approach from the top of the rise there are several rocks down below with images that are easily visible from a distance.

The same enigmatic images common to the region are present.

This single bisected circle apparently carried enough meaning of its own that it didn't always need the support of any others.

If the slab with the holes is indeed a solar calendar then it is unique in the area as the only one that we have come across so far. It also seems to imply that at least one person may have remained here year round and that certain ceremonies may have also been celebrated here. This was our first trip to the area and we only managed to visit a little over 40 sites due to a road closure and lack of time. From here we continued south toward Bishop on the Fish Slough Road and made our next stop at the Casa Diablo caves and rock art that consists of both petroglyphs and pictographs. As far as the Fish Slough Petroglyph site goes, if you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.