The Blythe Intaglios

Human figure at the Blythe Intaglio site.  Photo Credit: Rsfinlayson [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Human figure at the Blythe Intaglio site.

Photo Credit: Rsfinlayson [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

The Blythe Intaglios are massive figures carved out of the Colorado Desert floor to make human and animal shapes. Located just 15 miles north of Blythe, CA the intaglios make a great desert exploration day trip.

The Intaglios are made up of six figures in three different groups. Each human figure is placed near an animal figure. Experts have suggested that one human and animal grouping is symbolic of the Native American Indian gods Mastamho and Hatakulya, both of which are significant in the story of creation.

Who Made The Blythe Intaglios?

At 95 feet to 171 feet in length, the Blythe Intaglios are some of the largest in the Southwest. No one is sure who made them or why, but some have suggested that they were created by either the Mohave or the Quechan Native American Indian tribes for ceremonial purposes.

Animal intaglios at the site.  Photo Credit: Rsfinlayson [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Animal intaglios at the site.

Photo Credit: Rsfinlayson [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Whoever made these carvings removed the top layer of rock to expose the lighter colored earth below, then packed the ground so that plants would not grow. This process similar to the one used to create the Nazca Intaglios found in South America.

The intaglios are difficult to place in history. Recent radiocarbon dating suggests a time frame between 900 BCE and 1200 CE, but it is possible they are as old as the prehistoric period or as recent as the arrival of the Spanish to the Southwest in 1540 CE.

The intaglios weren’t rediscovered until the early 1930s when a pilot name George Palmer flew over the Colorado Desert and noticed the large figures from the air.

Visit the Blythe Intaglios

Today, the Blythe Intaglios are protected by fences, but they are open to the public and easily accessible from Arizona Oasis. If you love the Blythe Intaglios, check out the other nearby intaglios in Parker, AZ and Ripley, CA.

When you get to the site of the intaglios, you’ll be able to see three if you drive to the first parking lot, the second parking lot has an additional intaglio. To see the third set of intaglios, you have to head south across the road and look for an additional fence on the hillside. Once you get closer to the hill, there will be a path that leads up to the last set of carvings.

Did you take a trip out to the Intaglios? Let us know what you thought by tagging #arizonaoasis on Instagram or posting a photo to our Facebook page - we want to see what your adventure was like!

Stay on the Colorado River and see the Blythe Intaglios

Photo Credit: Google Earth, 2019

Photo Credit: Google Earth, 2019