…to the Blythe Intaglios

The who what?

That is exactly what I thought when I found the small, red, “point of interest” square in my trusty [NatGeo Adventure Edition] road atlas, lying barely an inch north of Blythe, California.

Ok, so I know what Blythe is. It’s a dusty little agricultural town on the CA-AZ border that most people would probably consider a rest area at best. Having traveled I-10 between Los Angeles and Phoenix numerous times over the last 15 years, I’ve blurred through the area, pausing momentarily to either gas up and grab a snack, or slow down for the agricultural inspection, but I had no idea what lied just a short drive north of the freeway.

001 Blythe Intaglios-1
On US 95 Northbound from Exit #241 (Intake Blvd) in Blythe, CA.

An intaglio, though? That word had my wheels spinning, forcing me back to Art History 101, or 115A or some class where I learned a bunch of similar sounding Roman or Greek terms to describe various methods of art making. Simply put, it is a technique where the form is carved, cut or otherwise imprinted onto a surface. Here at the Blythe Intaglios, that surface is the earth.

004.1 Blythe Intaglios-14

002 Blythe Intaglios-7
When heading north on US 95, there’s a sign on the left hand side of the road just before the gravel entrance. There is an identical sign on the right hand side of US 95 when you are coming from the north. It looks as if there’s a rock monument on the opposite side of the entrance that looks like a “historic marker” type structure, but there is no information on it. 
003 Blythe Intaglios-2
I had a low-clearance vehicle, so I parked at this sign and walked along the road to get to the intaglios. 

Now to be perfectly honest, I’m definitely not recommending taking a trip out there just to go see these. Even from the exit on I-10 (#241 Intake Blvd/US 95), it’s a half-hour minimum round trip drive, unless like me you get stuck behind a semi truck hauling a load of hay, which is very possible. My visit included hiking to the 3 closest of the 6 intaglios to where I parked. If you have a high clearance vehicle, you may drive close to each and then walk a short distance to view them. You may even be able to find the other 3 intaglios, of which I was never able to locate on Google Maps, and therefore didn’t attempt to find on foot.

004 Blythe Intaglios-12
P = Parking (unless you drive further); 1 = Human Figure #1; 2 = Human Figure #2, 3 = Animal and Spiral Figures. I hiked along the gravel road to site 1, back along the road to sites 2 and 3, and then back along the road to parking. It was 1.72 miles and took 40 minutes.

All in all, it was a 90 minute side trip for me, which included a 1.75 mile hike out and back that took about 40 minutes. It was free and I was happy to explore as I was in no hurry on my trip this time, and I can easily geek out on any kind of ancient (dates actually not determined) “rock art” that has been marked upon the land, however this was my first experience with large-scale geoglyphs such as these.

No fees or permits are required, and the intaglios are accessible to the public 24 hours a day, all year long. Click here for more information.




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