Ring Mountain Petroglyphs – Corte Madera, California - Atlas Obscura

Ring Mountain Petroglyphs

Corte Madera, California

Across Ring Mountain is a vast collection of Native American petroglyphs unique to the region.  


The Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve is named after New Hampshire dairyman and wealthy local landowner George E. Ring. It’s a great place to see examples of pecked curvilinear nucleated petroglyphs, a style of petroglyph unique to western North America. These particular glyphs are believed to have been created by the Coast Miwok people. The creations are thought to be around 2,400 years old. 

The Coast Miwok people are the original inhabitants of what we now call Marin and southern Sonoma Counties in California. They have a rich history that dates back for thousands of years. The arrival of European settlers and eventually the California Gold Rush era devastated Miwok communities. The land and environment that had sustained the people for generations was massively altered, clearing out sources of food and other resources that the Miwok people relied on.

Around 30 of Ring Mountain’s boulders contain some form of petroglyphs, but the easiest to find are those along Petroglyph Rock. Many consists of various ovals and circles, but the meaning of the circular symbols is unknown.

The preserve is also a good place to witness stunning views of the Bay Area, as well as the location of world-famous geological features. Across the trail, hikers will spot numerous wildflowers and other rare examples of plant life. Lucky hikers may spot the endangered Tiburon mariposa lily, found nowhere else in the world.

Know Before You Go

The Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve is open during daylight hours. Dogs must be leashed, and visitors should stick to the trails, as the area contains sensitive and endangered wildlife.

Petroglyph Rock is located near the intersection of Ring Mountain Fire Road and Reed Ranch Fire Road; follow the signs for Petroglyph Rock Or look for the rock with a small fence around it. 37°54'37.8"N 122°29'35.1"W.

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