Santa Barbara: Introduction

Santa Barbara: Complete Arroyo

Santa Barbara Arroyo:

This drainage basin is called on some maps, Aquada La Enramada which is translated as The Water of the Bower (or Grove) of Trees. The selection of these words paints a nice picture in a desert environment doesn’t it?

The Santa Barbara arroyo is a major arroyo that drains an area of some 45sq kms south and east of the Mulege drainage basin and north of the San Juan arroyo. The arroyo enters the Conception Bay area at Santa Barbara Bay, south and east of the beaches of El Burro, El Coyote and Los Cocos. There was extensive shellfish harvesting by the early inhabitants of the area as evidenced by large shell middens at beach shelters and caves in the area.


The purpose of this study is to examine and analyze the land use in the Santa Barbara drainage basin by the early Cochimi inhabitants. This is done by locating shelters and caves in the area and observing if Metates, Manos and Rock Art is present as well as artifacts and other historical indicators such as Lookout Position depressions and Habitation/Sleeping areas. Indicators such as the presence or absence of shell middens will be noted. Evidence of knapping of flint types of rock will also be noted. Of great importance will be the presence of water springs and Tinaja’s. Also, what types of trees, cacti and other plants are in this particular area
All evidence will be left in place and only photographs taken.
It is hoped that evidence can be found that will support a speculated conclusion indicating a seasonal travel route between the mountains to the west of Mulege and the beaches of Conception Bay. For those of you who cant wait to get to where the rock art is. . . . Check out Arroyo 4 Right.

Lower Arroyo:
Contains the Coyote Cave at 26.70xxx, 111.90xxx. This cave, close to the main arroyo is on land posted as being private. There is a rough road from the highway to the beaches of Santa Barbara bay where there are properties for sale. There is a resident watchman at the beach.

The part of the Santa Barbara arroyo between the main highway and the Coyote cave was walked by me in 2014 and no rock art was found at that time but the observations were quite casual in nature. It may be prudent to walk this portion of the arroyo again with closer attention given to each side.

Middle Arroyo:

This part of the Santa Barbara arroyo joins the main arroyo at about Kilometer Marker 104.5 and is on the right as you travel south on the highway. There is a culvert that carries water from one side of the highway to the main arroyo. There are places to park a vehicle close by. Starting point is at 26.70289, 111.91555.

Upper Arroyo:

Access to this part of the arroyo can be made from two points. The most direct is where the main highway crosses the arroyo at a Vado. Distances in the main part of the arroyo are measured from here. Altitude here is about 55 meters. Access to the arroyo from the Vado is quite rocky and not suitable for any type of wheeled vehicle. There is limited parking here and any vehicle would be visible from the highway.
There is another access point on the top of the hill on the north side before the arroyo near the highway shrine on the right of the road. 26.69346N, 111.91512W Altitude 96 meters. From here there is a rough foot/horse trail leading down to the arroyo. Parking a vehicle here might be safer as it is well clear of the highway and cant be seen from the road. Parking here also shortens the distance walked in the upper arroyo by about 1/2km.

Tributaries in the arroyo

There are 6 main tributaries in the arroyo:
Possible one-way trips could be made from the start of the arroyo, at the road, to:
El Burro beach about 7.7kms
Los Cocos beach about 12kms
One-way trips can also be made into the Mulege drainage basin to the northwest and also into the Arroyo San Juan to the south

I chose to number the significant tributaries in the Santa Barbara arroyo from 0 to 5 in a clockwise rotation from the first tributary. This produces:
0 LEFT at 250meters from road at 26.69115, 111.91102
1 LEFT at 1.5km from road at 26.69635, 111.92189 .
2 LEFT at 3.3km from road at 26.703447, 111.934812.
3 LEFT at 3.8km from road at 26.704751,111.939350
4 RIGHT at 3.8km from road at 26.704751,111.939350 the same as 3 LEFT
5 RIGHT at 2.6kms from road at 26.702126, 111.929265
There are a number of lesser Washes in this drainage basin that will be numbered as Wash R1, Wash R2 etc

The GPS co-ordinates are in decimal format rather than degrees, minutes and seconds with the first number being NORTH latitude and the second number WEST longitude. Some co-ordinates were taken from Google Earth and will be updated with on-site gps co-ordinates if there is a significant variance. The altitude of features will be given in meters above sea level and will be gained from GPS readings.

Caves and shelters that are found are numbered consecutively within each arroyo. Eg Main arroyo cave number 2 is written MC2. The third cave found in Arroyo 1Left is written 1LC3. Photos of those caves with be similarly numbered.

Caves may be described as being Standard; This means that the cave:
1. Is deep enough relative to the height of the mouth of the cave to provide shelter from rain on the inside of the drip line.
2. Might be suitable for sleeping in overnight
3. Has only one chamber or room.
A cave may be described as being Compound. This means that the cave
1. Has one or more chambers connected to the entrance.

A cave may be described as a Shelter: This means that the Shelter:
1. Is relatively shallow from front to back so that rain may reach any occupants.
2. May provide shelter from the sun at certain times of day.
3. Might not be considered suitable for sleeping (by me)
4. Will usually have a high mouth relative to the depth of the shelter