Where to See Rock Art Today
Historic petroglyphs and pictographs are on display for the public at Columbia Hills State Park across from The Dalles in Washington
While it would be wonderful to see petroglyphs and pictographs in the place where the original artists first painted them, this is no longer possible in all but a few cases.
Today, a collection of this sensitive rock art is preserved as a valuable part of our region's cultural heritage in an outstanding outdoor exhibit at the Columbia Hills State Park (off Hwy 14, across the Dalles, OR). While this effort is the result of a number of different groups, it is overseen by Washington State Parks.
At this site, petroglyphs and pictographs have been collected and moved to a site where people can easily view and photograph them. A wide paved pathway, called the Temani Pesh-wa Trail, passes 43 boulders set against a protective cliff. The park is open for during summer months from 6:30 a.m. to dusk but typically closed Nov. 1 to March 31.
Note that this artwork is extremely fragile. Art as old as this cannot be replaced easily and, as a result, it is under camera surveillance. Historically, humans and development have been the greatest threat to the preservation of this art. During the construction of the dams and highways along the Columbia River, hundreds of sites were flooded or removed. What is left is just a small assortment of literally thousands of marks that once adorned the area.