Sierra de San Francisco is the gateway to some spectacular pre-Hispanic rock art and as such has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. At Cueva Pintada, Cochimie painters and their predecessors decorated high rock overhangs with vivid red and black representations of human figures, bighorn sheep, pumas and more abstract designs. Hire a guide in San Ignacio.
From 100 B.C. to A.D. 1300, the Sierra de San Francisco (in the El Vizcaino reserve, in Baja California) was home to a people who have now disappeared but who left one of the most outstanding collections of rock paintings in the world. Some are believed to be pre date Cochimie people and thought to be 4,000 to 10,000 years old. They are remarkably well-preserved because of the dry climate and the inaccessibility of the site. Showing human figures and many animal species and illustrating the relationship between humans and their environment, the paintings reveal a highly sophisticated culture. Their composition and size, as well as the precision of the outlines and the variety of colours, but especially the number of sites, make this an impressive testimony to a unique artistic tradition.
According to Cochimie legends, a race of giants created the murals because they appear on rock walls as high as 30 feet above the ground. These mysterious, larger-than-life pictographs represent Baja California's greatest cultural heritage and are designated as protected archaeological zones by the Mexican government. Except for several Category 1 sites like Cueva El Raton and Cuesta Plamarito, visitors to all cave painting in San Francisco de la Sierra are required to make reservations and receive permits from INAH Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia next to the museum in San Ignacio Tel/fax 154-0222 or in La Paz tel/fax 122-7389.
The village of San Francisco de la Sierra is located 60 Miles southeast on Highway 1 from Guerrero Negro.