Rosetta Stone

Round Trip Distance: 0.28 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 4471 - 4507 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Rouch Creek Rd.
Fee: none
Attractions: rock shelter, petroglyphs

The Rosetta Stone site is located along the Rouch Creek Road just off of US-395N 12 miles northwest of Bishop, California. The site includes a rock shelter cave and a single small boulder that is covered with petroglyphs and is known as the Rosetta Stone.

The unmarked Rouch Creek Road is 2.9 miles past the Bloody Hands site on Mill Creek Road. 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 11.5 miles and pull off at the road on the right. The turnoff is at the point where US-395N gets close to the side of the hill and begins an ascent. Find a place to park out of the way so as not to block the road. Do not park in front of the gate.

The green powder river gate will probably be locked but there is a walk-around on the right. From here it is only about 400 feet to the site.

After a nice short stroll beneath a copse of cottonwoods that overhang the road the route emerges into the open right before it makes a curve to the right. On the left side of the road what looks like a small cave should start becoming visible within 100 feet of the road. The Rosetta Stone boulder is in the thick brush off to the right of the cave and isn't visible until you are almost right on top of it.

There are several faint paths that lead both to the rock shelter and the petroglyphs. The path to the petroglyphs passes through a thick growth of willows and other brush and is a little beyond the path to the rock shelter.

A minor amount of scrambling is required to get the short distance up to the cave.

A heavy coat of soot covers the roof of the cave. Small stacks of rocks are still visible that originally formed a wall near the entrance.

The Rosetta Stone is over amongst a tangle of brush maybe 20 feet away. We were able to easily find our way over to it without going back out to the road.

Laying like a big Easter Egg in the midst of the brush the Rosetta Stone finally becomes revealed. Unlike an Easter Egg you may look but not touch.

A set of two concentric circles are the most prominent images on the boulder.

The lower image of concentric circles is different in as it is crossed. Turkey tracks, a couple of vulva symbols, and what looks a little like a 6 fingered hand are among some of the other images. The short lines extending from the line that runs around the outer edge of the boulder and encloses the rest of the images are an interesting aspect to contemplate.

It is a mystery to us how the small boulder became known as the Rosetta Stone. Unlike its namesake it doesn't provide much information and doesn't appear to be a key for translating other panels of rock art and there is no nearby town named Rosetta. Of course, we are also stumped how the road running along Rock Creek became named 'Rouch Creek' but that is what it is on the maps. All that aside, the Rosetta Stone site is an easy one to visit and in our opinion fun and well worth the time. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.