Perched high above Malibu, nestled deep within the Santa Monica Mountains, lies a historical and mysterious secret location, the Saddlerock Ranch Pictograph Site. The site, also known as “The Cave of the Four Horsemen” is a significant and awe inspiring pillar to California Chumash Culture and Native American Heritage. The area itself is a collection of over a hundred pictographs, drawings, and chumash art painted on the underside of a boulder. Each piece is painted with natural materials such as red ocher, black walnut, and animal fat. Native Americans are estimated to have occupied this area as early as 5000 BC, however nearly a hundred figures of moons, suns, animals and abstract shapes are thought to have been added to the rock after 500 A.D.


The most interesting of these drawings however has to be of the men on horseback. The horses depicted in the drawings we’re not native to the area, so how did the Chumash come to know about a horse, let alone draw one on a cave wall in detail and accuracy? Well, one of the things that makes this sight truly special is that it immortalizes some of the first contact that the Chumash had with Spanish Settlers. The site is thought to depict Spanish expeditions led by Gaspar de Portola who explored the area from 1769 - 1770.


As the Chumash, and many other Native American tribes did not have a written language, these pictographs stand as a first hand account and form of historical documentation for the Chumash people.

Further excavations around Saddlerock Ranch in the 1980’s also reveal extensive occupation around the rock, and as mentioned earlier, as early as 5000 BC. Archeologists found a midden nearby, a refuse heap that offered clues on the Daily lives of the Chumash people such as their diet, culture, and materials they used in everyday life. Some historians believe that Saddlerock could have also been used as a navigation point for prehistoric peoples.

 Saddlerock Ranch

The side of Saddlerock has faced many challenges over the years. Debates over its preservation, land use, and the woolsey fires of 2018 which devastated the nearby area have created setbacks to the public access of the area and its protection. Despite these obstacles, the Semler Family which owns the ranch have made great efforts to preserve the site and open it to the public who want to come and see such a historical landmark. While the site is eligible for a National Historic Landmark designation, there have been challenges between owner opposition to federal oversight of the area. However the Selmer family takes great pride and effort in the preservation of the site and has maintained the integrity of the pictographs, allowing students, researchers and the public to view them through guided tours throughout the year.

SaddleRock Ranch 2

 The rock art of the Chumash people, preserved at sites like Saddlerock Ranch and beyond, provides a vital link to understanding the region's past. These pictographs not only represent artistic expression but also serve as historical records of the Chumash way of life and their encounters with European explorers, offering a unique perspective on California's early history.

 HD Rocks

The historical significance and cultural richness of the Saddlerock Ranch Pictograph Site echo the unique charm and allure of Malibu Real Estate. Whether you're captivated by the stunning mountain views or the serene coastal landscapes, Shen Realty offers unparalleled service to help you discover the perfect homes for sale in Malibu, CA. As the Best Malibu Realtor, we pride ourselves on our deep local knowledge and dedication to our clients. Our expertise in Malibu Real Estate ensures you get the best possible guidance and support in your home buying journey. Contact us today to explore the finest properties and experience why Shen Realty stands out among Malibu Real Estate agents. Let us help you find your dream home with the top Realtor Malibu has to offer.


Sources: 1, 2, 3