Tours, After Dark highlight this years festival

Street fair, educational panels, entertainment and more offered Saturday and Sunday

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Tours, After Dark highlight this years festivalWith only three days left before the kickoff of the annual Ridgecrest Petroglyph Festival, Maturango Museum announced that slots are still available for the weekend tours.

The festival

“Two of the Saturday tours are full, but we still have spots available for both Saturday and Sunday,” said museum executive director Debbie Benson.

“All of our regular tours are full for the season, so this is kind of a unique opportunity for anyone who still wants to get out and see our Petroglyphs.”

The protected ranges of China Lake boast the highest concentration of rock art in North America. In addition to the fall and spring tour schedule, the museum operates mini tours of Little Petroglyph Canyon to allow visitors a glimpse of the 10,000-year-old renderings etched and painted on rock.

“For our festival tours, you don’t have to go through the extensive vetting process to get on base,” said Benson. “The trips are also shorter — so instead of taking a whole day, it’s only four hours from departure to return.”

Even the abbreviated tours typically inspire awe from visitors, said Benson. “People still seem pretty amazed by everything.”

Tour guides can help inform visitors of the natural and cultural history behind the petroglyphs. “Part of our training is to refrain from interpreting the petroglyphs. Number one, it’s not our culture. Number two, we have such different belief systems that it’s hard not to filter these through our own customs and understanding.”

Leading up to the festival, tourists can register at After Friday, people can check in at the museum in person to see if space is still available. On Tuesday morning, only 60 of the 150 spots were still open.

Several years ago, local advocates of tourism began the festival as a way to celebrate the Native American influence in the Indian Wells Valley. The two day event on Saturday and Sunday is held in conjunction with Native American Heritage Month.

One of the new additions to this year’s festival is the “Festival After Dark,” which will be held Saturday evening. The event will feature performances by DDAT and the Sheleighlys. “Join us for spirits, cigars, great live music, food and fun,” said a spokesperson.

The festival will line Las Flores Avenue between China Lake Boulevard and French Avenue. Other festivities include a street fair, musicians, dancers, a speaker series, farmer’s market, beer and wine garden and children’s and family activities.

The Honor-a-Veteran Car-Truck-Bike Show will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.

For a full schedule of events, visit

Pictured: A scorpion-shaped etching in Little Petroglyph canyon is one of countless thousands of images to be taken in during this weekend’s petroglyph tours. — Photo by Kent McGowan

Story First Published: 2019-10-29