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Old 06-23-2015, 09:58 AM   #1
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China Lake Naval Weapons Station/Coso Petroglyphs

Just north of Ridgecrest, CA, in the Mojave Desert betwixt the Southern Sierra and Death Valley sits the usually closed to civilian China Lake Naval Weapons Station. Lots of prime desert in there, which we have always wanted to explore. Especially the Coso petroglyphs, the largest (i.e. most numerous) collection of such art in North American.

Fortunately in recent years they've become accessible to the public through the courtesy of NAWS/CL and the Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest. They have tours that book up fast; you have to be escorted by their guides. But you can also arrange your own tours, which we did. It involves contacting and securing the services of approved guides through the museum and then getting permission from the Navy, which involves a security check. So if you are a felon SMBer, don't bother. You need proper ID (including birth certificates for minors), a contraband free vehicle (they are searched), and an agreement to follow the rules, like restrictions on cell phones.

We had two excellent guides, Doris and Tony. Try to ride with 'em if you can; Tony worked there and his info about the facility was worth the ride alone. And Doris is a classic desert rat, with tons of knowledge about the desert backcountry thereabouts. It's a long drive out to Petroglyph Canyon, so you'll have a bunch of time to debrief 'em about the area. I noted a van that sure enough turned out to be a target for target practice, and looked too much like MY van.

The petroglyphs are fantastic, of course. You might also see wild horses, flowers, all the usual great desert stuff. A very worthwhile trip. And although I'm sure the museum organized ones are fun, it's nice to get a fun group together of your own associates.

http://maturango.org/petroglyph-tours/

https://flic.kr/s/aHskbV31xR

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Old 06-23-2015, 10:04 AM   #2
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Re: China Lake Naval Weapons Station/Coso Petroglyphs

Super cool.. Been past there many times, I had no idea.
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Old 06-23-2015, 10:06 AM   #3
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Re: China Lake Naval Weapons Station/Coso Petroglyphs

Awesome, always wanted to see them, thanks for posting!
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Old 06-23-2015, 10:40 AM   #4
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Re: China Lake Naval Weapons Station/Coso Petroglyphs

Great report, Rob. I believe that area is the largest protected closed-to-the-public desert refuge in the Mojave. There is a book about the Coso range and the rock art there. I think I'll wait until next fall to attempt the trip.
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Old 06-23-2015, 11:04 AM   #5
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Re: China Lake Naval Weapons Station/Coso Petroglyphs

Thanks. Great pics
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