Hidden amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Bend, Oregon, lies the treasure of ancient history and art – the Pictograph Cave. It’s east of Bend between China Hat and Pine Mountain in the lonely plains of the high desert.
There’s no easy way to get there. It’s a 3.4-mile round-trip trek through the desert, longer as you’re sure to have some issues finding your way there and back. There is no clearly marked trail, and you’re often traipsing through the desert using landmarks and the compass on your phone for help. The day we went, it was very smokey. Boo for forest fires! If you go, be sure to wear socks. The flora have lots of stickers and prickers. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to wear those shoes again. There are still things poking me when I put them on.
Protecting the Past
It’s dry and dusty, so bring lots of water. The reason the cave is pretty well hidden is to protect it from vandals. Some a$$hats defaced a cave that is easier to access and ruined it for everyone. I’m all for protecting this cave. There’s a lot to study and learn.
Evidence of Ancient Tool Making
That’s Pine Mountain in the distance. I ‘m usually driving past this part of the desert, not walking through it. One of the cool things is, there are pieces of obsidian everywhere – remnants of toolmaking. The natives seemed to have used this area quite a bit for there to be so much obsidian lying around. This evidence of the past you can witness without finding the cave.
Watch Your Step!
Besides being on the lookout for snakes and roots trying to trip you, you have to be aware of sudden holes in the earth that want to swallow you up. This drop would have ended the hike in tragedy. And, you’re pretty much out there on your own. We didn’t see anybody else anywhere on the trails or parked on the dirt path leading to the walking path.
Closed for Bats
Be aware that the cave, and every cave in the area, is closed for bat hibernation between October 1st and April 30th. You have to respect nature and all its creatures.
And the entrance to the cave is rather treacherous. It involves climbing and is not easy. You should have at least one other person with you for safety. There are some hand and foot holds, but you have to be into rock climbing.
Once you make it to the cave, and then down into the cave, you’ll be rewarded with ancient rock art.
The Magnificent Rock Art
The intricate and vibrant pictographs tell stories of a bygone era, capturing the creativity and ingenuity of the early inhabitants. The cave’s walls showcase a diverse array of artwork, including depictions of wildlife, human figures, celestial objects, and abstract symbols. The drawings span over time and are thousands of years old. There isn’t any information on what they mean, but it’s humbling to stand where ancient humans did thousands of years ago and try to figure out what had stirred them to paint the images they did on the cave walls. I monkeyed with the photos to make the drawings more clear.
A Trek of Discovery
Visiting Pictograph Cave in Bend, Oregon, offers a unique opportunity. Walking in the footsteps of ancient civilizations, you can imagine what life might have been like in prehistoric times. The cave’s aura of mystery and the palpable connection to the past create an unforgettable experience, leaving you with a newfound appreciation for the richness of human history.