Mill Creek Boulders

Round Trip Distance: 1.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 4431 - 4469 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Mill Creek Road
Fee: none
Attractions: Rock art, sharpening grooves

The Mill Creek Boulders site is located off of US Highway 395, 10 miles northwest of Bishop, California. The site includes one large boulder that has several panels of pictographs, and a few petroglyphs, and a smaller boulder that has a dozen or more sharpening grooves gouged into its surface.

Measuring from the junction of US-395 and CA-168, in Bishop, drive north on Main Street/US-395 for 0.86 miles and keep left on US-395 N. Continue on US-395 N for another 8.6 miles and turn right onto the Mill Creek Road. Ample parking will be found on the right. The road continues from here to the Mill Creek Boulders but it was washed out enough that we chose to hike the short distance. Alternatively, for those that want to drive right up to the boulders, there is access via the Pleasant Valley Dam Road which comes up 3 miles before reaching the Mill Creek Road. From the Pleasant Valley Dam Road turnoff it is 2.7 miles to the Mill Creek Boulders. Follow the Pleasant Valley Dam Road for just under 1 mile and turn left onto the Mill Creek Road and continue from there to the Mill Creek Boulders.

From the parking area follow the 4wd portion of the Mill Creek Road back toward Bishop. Near the half mile point the road turns away from the creek and US-395. The large boulder can be seen at the side of the road a little less than 200 feet up ahead.

The main panel of pictographs will be found on the side of the boulder that faces away from the road. There is another good panel a little around the corner of the boulder on the left. In between there are a few faint petroglyphs.

The main panel is a jumbled mass of images that appears to be made up of multiple layers.

The most prominent images appear to be of atlatls. At some point in time the images had been tragically outlined, or traced, with white chalk. Chalking was practiced, even by archeologist, years ago and as you can see it was a very bad idea. Tracing, chalking or even touching rock art images is now rightly illegal and expressly prohibited.

To the left of the main panel is another atlatl pictograph, (not in this photo), and a few faint petroglyphs.

On the left side of the boulder is another panel of pictographs.

As you can see, this panel also includes several more atlatls, and the images have also unfortunately been chalked. Like the main panel, it is interesting to note the line of dots that are coupled with the solid lines. The atlatl in the center of the photo is touching a line of dots. Each dot might represent a days travel. The solid lines might represent natural features like the nearby mountains or river. Down at the bottom of the photo, also touching a line, is what reminds a person of a foot with 8 toes.

The second boulders sits by itself about 60 feet way.

This smaller boulder displays a number of sharpening grooves. These grooves are created in the process of honing the points and edges of tools and arrowheads that were attached to the end of the shafts of darts and spears that would have been the projectiles that were slung by the atlatls.

The Bloody Hands Panel is about 650 feet in the other direction from where out truck is parked. We thought it was convenient to easily reach both sites from the same starting point. The hike to the Mill Creek Boulders from here, along Horton Creek, is both easy and pleasant. Whether you take this route or go in via the Pleasant Valley Dam Road, the Mill Creek Boulders are well worth a visit. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.