The Blythe Intaglios are a group of gigantic earth figures found on the ground near the town of Blythe, California. These intaglios are east of the Big Maria Mountains, about 15 miles north of Blythe—just west of Highway 95 near the Colorado River. The intaglios are best viewed from the air, and that is exactly how they were discovered. In 1932, local pilot George Palmer was flying over the Colorado River into Blythe when he accidentally spotted the formations below him.
Intaglios are gigantic human, animal and geometric figures on the ground surface. There are over 300 intaglios in the American Southwest and adjacent Mexico. Some of the best known of these mysterious figures are the Blythe Intaglios. The ground drawings are situated on two low mesas or terraces. There are several figures in three locations. The figures include two large humans, a feline and a concentric circle and a spiral. The largest human figure measures 171 feet from head to toe.
They were created by scraping a design in the dark colored rocks called desert pavement. By moving the desert pavement, the lighter color soil is exposed. The fine particles have been washed and blown away over the centuries, leaving larger stones or pebbles on the surface. Any mark made on the desert pavement will be visible for centuries. Intaglios are very susceptible to damage. If you visit an intaglio remember that even footsteps can damage the figures. The Blythe Intaglios have been fenced to prevent further damage.
The dates of origin remain a mystery but the figures are believed to between 450 to 2000 years old. According to the Native Americans of the lower Colorado River area, their oral histories believe the human figures represent the creator of all life. The animal figures may represent one of two mountain lions who helped in the creation. Sacred ceremonial dances were held in the area in ancient times to honor the creation.
After locating several articles about the Blythe Intaglios readers will find many of the theories interesting. Some speculate that primitive man was once visited by highly intelligent beings from outer space and the giant desert figures are tributes to these visitors. When a historical mystery comes along, this writer wants to know more about the phenomena, and will somehow find a way to investigate it up close.
Driving from the Phoenix vicinity to Blythe is 150 miles or a two hour drive west on Interstate I10. Explorers need to drive about 15 miles north and watch for a sign to direct you to the turn off. Once turning west off US 95, you will find a graded dirt road that winds its way up to the top of the mesa and the two fenced areas containing the Giant Drawings. Park in the designated parking areas along the road and walk a few hundred yards to the fenced in areas.
Visitors will be amazed at the size of the drawings if they have only seen smaller versions etched on painted rocks. You will marvel at the detail of fingers, size of legs, shape of head and the spirals that were artistically draw. It leaves you with a serene feeling knowing the area was a place of ritual and ceremony. It made me wonder if Native American of the past were watching us and protecting the giant desert figures. This writer felt privileged to view a part of history that still remains etched in the desert floor forever.
Only recently the Blythe Intaglios, a favorite visiting spot for winter visitors and travelers on US 95, have been named to the National Register of Historic Places in Washington D.C., after a lengthy qualification process which began in 1978. They’re one of the few unsolved mysteries of modern archeology.
Learn more about the Blythe Intaglios.