Blame it was the desert's summer heat, but when we got there, there were hardly any visitors around - in fact, maybe there were none. There was a docent or caretaker of sorts, though, and he chatted with us for awhile about the history of the site. The area was discovered by amateur archaeologists in the early 1940s after they found what they believed to be primitive stone tools. The dating of the soils on site suggested that humans could have inhabited North America as far back as 200,000 years ago.
Now, there are a couple unique factoids about this location, which make it worth a look-see. First, the famed archaeologist, Dr. Louis Leakey, was the project director here from the 1960s until his death in 1972 (Calico was the only New World archaeology project undertaken by Dr. Leakey). Second, there's been some controversy over the years as to whether or not the 'tools' found here were actually man-made or just naturally formed. No human bones or remains have ever been found around the area to corroborate a human presence or habitation. According to BLM's website, "archaeologists have classified this site as a possible stone tool workshop, quarry, and campsite" where "perhaps early nomadic hunters and gatherers stopped in this area to fashion the tools they used to survive."
To this day, archaeologists are still working and excavating this site, so the mystery continues...
Location: 15 miles northeast of Barstow, off of I-15
County/State: San Bernardino County, CA
Closest Town: Barstow
Management: Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
Directions: From I-15, exit Minneola Rd. Follow the signs going north for about 2 miles on graded dirt road to the site.
Website: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/barstow/calico.html (BLM)
Visitor Center/Trails: There's a small visitor/gift shop on site and a self-guided walking tour. Guided tours are also available.
Fees: Adults $5.00 per 1-2 persons ($2.50 for each additional over 2 persons), seniors $2.00, children under 12 $1.00.
Hours: Closed Monday & Tuesday. Wednesday 12:30pm-4:30pm; Thursday to Sunday 9:00am-4:30pm.
Contact Info: BLM Barstow Field Office, 2601 Barstow Rd., Barstow, CA 92311 Tel (760)252-6000.