Rising above the Carrizo Plain is Painted Rock, an important cultural and spiritual site to California's native peoples. Most of the pictographs, or painted images found on Painted Rock, are characteristic of the Chumash who lived on the Channel Islands, central coast and interior region of California. The painting style of the Yokuts from the San Joaquin Valley also suggest their use of Painted Rock. The Salinan people in the Cholame area are the nearest native people to the northwest of Carrizo Plain.
Bedrock mortars, or grinding holes for the preparation of food, are also found at Painted Rock. Cupules, or smaller holes pecked in the Rock, may have served as petroglyphs, or as a place for mixing paint pigments.
Rock painting held an important meaning in the lives of the native peoples on the Carrizo Plain. The images were likely created by spiritual leaders and tribal members for ceremonial, spiritual, and cultural purposes. These cultural images are evidence of prolonged use and display the significance of Painted Rock as gathering place. It stands today as a monument of California's rich cultural heritage.
The meanings of the paintings are not fully understood. However, the images found here and other cultural materials are clues to the traditional lifeways of the native peoples that used Painted Rock and the Carrizo Plain.