Buttermilk Boulder Pictographs

Round Trip Distance: 900 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 6438 - 6448 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Buttermilk Road mm 3.6
Fee: none
Attractions: pictographs

The Buttermilk Boulder Pictographs are located 11 miles west of Bishop, California. At least a half dozen painted images can be found on the boulder at the site which is less that 450 feet from the Buttermilk Road.

From Bishop head west on CA -168 for 7.3 miles and turn right onto the Buttermilk Road.

Four-wheel drive vehicles with high clearance would be preferable as the road tends to wash out in places.  We did notice multiple highway SUVs that seemed to be doing just fine. The road varies mostly between hard packed sand, with deep washed out ruts in places, and washboardy gravel.

Near the 3.6 mile point from CA-168 there is a fork in the road and a cattleguard. Park anywhere in this area where there is room to get out of the way. For reference the road that branches off on the right just past the cattleguard is signed with a brown mylar marker that is labeled with 07S01E.

The trail that leads the 450 feet from the road to the Buttermilk Boulder Pictographs is just before the cattleguard. That trail has a brown mylar marker with an arrow.

The pictographs are easily found by following the trail to a group of boulders and then walking around to the side with the images.

Many of the images still show up quite well. There are a tantalizing number of images that have mostly faded beyond recognition but can still be brought out using an enhancer like dstretch. We'll leave that up to those wishing to perform they're own further analysis.

It is interesting that some of the images seem to show up better when you stand back a bit. Some of the photos that we took that were very close brought out the colored grains of the rock and caused the painted image to lose its detail.

We were wondering whether this was an image of 3 or 4 shaman type figures arrayed side by side.

We can provide on request any images in the YouTube slideshow at the end of this post for those that would like to examine them closer with a tool like dstretch. There is no charge for images that are used for non-commercial purposes. If the images are posted online or used in articles or papers we ask only that a caption is included that gives credit to gjhikes.com.

It's hard not to wonder whether there is even more rock art to be found along the Buttermilk Road but if so, this is the only site for which we are aware. It looks like a fun place to explore.

The Buttermilk Road area is very popular with rock climbers and there are several trailheads along the road that are used for climber access trails. There are a few primitive campsites in the area. Campfires are prohibited so plan accordingly. The road isn't anything that we would pull our trailer on but one of those off road type trailers might do okay. As far as the pictographs go, we thought it was well worth the effort. If you would like to see them for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.