July 24, 2000:

The Road to Las Pintas

Eighteen miles from Hwy.#1, about half way to Punta San Carlos, this road turns left, and follows the Arroyo San Fernando eastward.

Las Pintas

At the end of a box canyon, just north of Arroyo San Fernando, is this fascinating pile of boulders with many petroglyphs and fossils. A waterfall is usually present, but this year was very dry.
The road ends by the shady mesquite tree and giant boojum tree. Time to get out and explore!
Passages over, under, or between the boulders make this ‘Nature’s Disneyland’! Can you see Lorenzo at the far end?
Also interesting are the fossil oyster shells in the boulders!
A ‘mano’ and rings etched into a boulder at the top of Las Pintas. The plain behind, ‘funnels’ any ground water to the top boulders. Water is forced to surface, and falls to the bottom. Just not this time!

July 1, 2001

Sarah Kier meets her first boojum at Las Pintas. She is 12 days from being 11 year old.
Christopher Kier (12-1/2 years old) in the dry stream, above Las Pintas.
Amo Pescar (Michael Curtis) in a Las Pintas ‘squeeze’.

Sept. 17, 2005

On Sept. 17, 2005, Elizabeth (my girlfriend of nine months) and I traveled from El Rosario’s Baja Cactus Motel to the Las Pintas petroglyph and fossil grotto. Travel directions follow the photos.

The first 17 dirt miles are over this well graded road that ends at Punta San Carlos. This road goes south from Hwy. 1 @ km. 80-81, 15 miles from the El Rosario.
The final 7 miles are over a single track road. Here shown in Arroyo San Fernando.
Las Pintas is a jumble of huge boulders, covered with petroglyphs and fossils. Trails go around the boulders and also into the middle of them.

At the top of the Las Pintas field is this boulder covered with petroglyphs… like a billboard!
I call this cardón ‘El Mano’ (the hand).
Elizabeth is making me laugh as she points to pre-historic pornography!
Our shadows are cast far below. The Baja Adventure Book shows a waterfall running here at Las Pintas… it is dry in the summer, however.
This cardón is growing in a boulder.
Elizabeth found a hiding spot! With so many caves and natural rock shelters it is not surprising the early inhabitants of Baja liked it here.
Not easy to see in these photos, but the boulders are covered in petroglyphs… thus the name ‘Las Pintas’ (the marked spot).

Inside the large boulder roofed cave, at the bottom of Las Pintas, were many petroglyphs.
Looking out from one of the cave rooms to a cirio (boojum tree).
Fossils of ancient shell fish are imbedded in the boulders at Las Pintas.

Can you make out the ‘lobster claws’?

DIRECTIONS (in 2005)

Highway 1, southward from El Rosario 14.6 miles (between Km. 80-81), turn right at the left curve. GPS: 30°01.60′, -115°32.10′ (Map datum set to WGS84)

Go 17.4 miles on the good graded dirt road to a single track road going left. If passed, just ahead is a ranch house on the right and there is a second left road that joins the first. Set odometer to ‘0.0’. GPS: 29°49.65′, -115°28.47′ .

Pass ranch houses (‘Malvar’ on some  maps) and make an ‘S’ turn right, into Arroyo San Fernando. You soon will be reach a (possibly) closed gate at Mile 3.5. Always re-close any gate after you pass through.

Mile 5.2, (GPS: 29°52.54′, -115°25.27′) turn LEFT off of Arroyo San Fernando road, and follow a small side arroyo. Brush may scratch your vehicle in here.

Mile 5.4, (GPS: 29°52.70′, -115°25.31′) turn RIGHT, out of small arroyo and cross low divide to small valley.

Mile 7.2 LAS PINTAS parking area. GPS: 29°53.91′, -115°24.53′, elev. 755′. You are 24.6 miles from Highway 1 and 39.2 miles from El Rosario’s Baja Cactus Motel and Pemex gas station, per my odometer.

Trail to the right of the boulders is the best way to the top, then cross over to other side and try the more difficult trail to get back down. Straight into the boulders from the parking area are tunnels, passages, and boulder shelters. ENJOY!

April 8, 2006


The ‘marked’ rocks of Las Pintas tell this was a popular site with the Native Indians of long ago! Access from the Punta San Carlos road, off Hwy. 1 at Km. 80/81.
Lots of neat places to explore here… as my son, Christopher (17 yrs old) discovers.

The Baja Adventure Book:

This photo in The Baja Adventure Book, of Las Pintas… a site in the desert, inspired me to see it for myself!
Here’s Chris at the same ‘waterfall’… but he didn’t get the same shower as Walt Peterson’s son did!
Chris looks above the waterfall.
A tight squeeze for me (48 yrs), at Las Pintas!

Chris climbs up the boulders…

Looking down to the Las Pintas parking area from above.
Chris climbed way up and photographed this petroglyph he called ‘the pineapple’.
Las Pintas is well worth a visit as one of Baja’s special sites.

Saturday, 9-18-2010, My Birthday in Baja: Exploring las Pintas Fossil Grotto

A trip to Baja for my birthday weekend was possible, so we packed up and headed south! We slept well at the Baja Cactus Motel in El Rosario and were in no rush, so we casually got motivated and went 2 miles down the highway to Baja’s Best (Bed and Breakfast) Restaurant… across the highway from the Turista Motel, on the far east edge of El Rosario. Elizabeth had hot cakes and eggs and I had their chorizo and eggs breakfast burritos… delicious!

With so many interesting sites around El Rosario, we had not decided exactly which ones to visit until then. We decided on Las Pintas, but this time to try the northern road in and see more of the top of the boulder field. We have been to Las Pintas several times before, and it never ceases to amaze us.

The access to Las Pintas is off the road to Punta San Carlos, a tiny fishing village and nearby wind-surfing resort called Solo Sports, about 36 miles from Highway 1. The turnoff is between Km. 80 & 81 (just over 14 miles from El Rosario’s Pemex station). There are two turn offs, the first one was signed for ‘Puerto San Carlos’ and the second one is just ahead at the second left curve in the highway. Set your trip odometer to zero when you leave the pavement.

Six miles from Highway One we pull over for a beer break where the old road from El Rosario meets the new, graded road to San Carlos… Life is good! Victoria is a really good tasting beer that isn’t as common as our other favorites (XX, Pacifico, Sol, Modelo, Tecate Light).
Just before arriving at the normal Las Pintas road, the San Carlos road enters a cárdonal (a cardón cactus forest). The cardón is the world’s largest cactus variety.

We noted the mileage at Rancho Emiliano Zapata as 10.0 from Hwy. 1, and knew the northern road to Las Pintas was not far past the ranch, and so we took the first road we saw, 1.9 miles ahead. At 1.8 miles (on this side road) is another road to the left (which was the correct one we sought), but it seemed to me to be going too far to the north, so I elected to continue ahead. The road ahead just returned to the San Carlos road. No matter, we will just continue south to the normal Las Pintas access road, and return via the less used northern road!

The Las Pintas road is 17.4 miles from Highway 1, and if you miss the first one, another is just ahead. Go too far, and a ranch is passed, further: you will cross the big Arroyo San Fernando (a usually dry riverbed) indicating a U-Turn is required.

Once on the Las Pintas road, reset your odometer to 0.0 for the (7.2 mile) drive in…

In Arroyo San Fernando.                                                                                                                    Mile 5.2, (GPS: 29°52.56′, -115°25.25′) turn LEFT off of Arroyo San Fernando road, and follow a small side arroyo. Brush may scratch your vehicle in here. Mile 5.4, (GPS: 29°52.70′, -115°25.31′) turn RIGHT, out of small arroyo and cross low divide to small valley.

Approaching Las Pintas:

Mile 7.2 LAS PINTAS parking area. GPS: 29°53.91′, -115°24.52′, elev. 755′. You are 24.6 miles from Highway 1 and 39.2 miles from El Rosario’s Baja Cactus Motel and Pemex gas station, per my odometer.


Okay, we have arrived at Las Pintas and we make a lunch, have some cold beer, and explore around the lower end of the rock art and fossil site. Plenty to see and photograph at the lower Las Pintas site and then we travel around to the top end of Las Pintas and see fantastic rock art that we have not seen before!

Fossils such as this lobster-like creature and various oyster clams are in the boulder at Las Pintas.

After a quick look, and another beer, I find a way to the big room… a cave created by a giant boulder resting on others. Inside are petroglyphs, as well.


Boojum (Cirio) Tree seen from the big under-boulder room.

Okay, time to go on new (to us) roads! Back out the 1.8 miles to the side arroyo, then 1.0 mile north to the upper Las Pintas road, and 1.4 miles to the end of the road…


Lower Las Pintas at end of 1.8 mile road. Upper Las Pintas at end of 1.4 mile road. (2015 note: a vehicle track can be seen offering a shorter and more direct connection between the two sites)

Now a 2WD might get to the lower Las Pintas site, but a good 4WD is a must for the top. There is a short section driving up a dry-mud hill, ridge-top, where traction assistance will make it easy.

The following photos were taken at the top of Las Pintas, a short walk along the boulders from the end of the 1.4 mile road:

Boojum Tree and Moon make a Baja street lamp at Las Pintas.
The boojum trees wave goodbye as we return to El Rosario from a great day at Las Pintas, one of Baja California’s great treasures.

On my 2018 map:

Thanks for coming along!

Sept. 17 & 18 2016 of the ‘Baja Extreme 2016’ Tour

Four Toyota 4x4s: My Tacoma (with Pat), Jesse’s Land Cruiser (with Marland), Nick’s 4Runner (with Christine), and Ham’s FJ Cruiser (with Jerry). Photo by Shari at the La Bufadora Inn, Bahía Asunción.

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Marland and Pat coming back from location shooting on the road to Las Pintas.
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Las Pintas is a fossil grotto that is also covered in petroglyphs.

From inside the cave, these tall boojums look amazing!

Nick quickly scaled the boulders for an investigation before it gets too dark.

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Moonrise above the boojum trees at Las Pintas, Night #9 of 10.
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Hollywood actor, Marland Burke enjoying the Baja Feeling at Las Pintas!

Ham (FJ Cruiser) condensed the eleven day tour into this wonderful 7-minute video, with great music. Las Pintas was our camp location where Chef Jesse made us Dutch Oven meals: pizzas for dinner and blueberry muffins for breakfast: https://youtu.be/kAWGzW4bR9Q Las Pintas is from minute 4:37 to 5:39.

Pat Malone (my passenger) filmed our trip and on this video, Las Pintas is the first 3:15 minutes. The video shows the drive in from the highway, the Las Pintas boulder passages, the petroglyphs and fossils: https://youtu.be/pu8OZyy5S9U

Thank you for your visit!

My VivaBaja.com web home and more location photos: https://vivabaja.com/locations/

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Some of the tour locations for Day 9 & 10.