Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive center Poway, CA

Visit the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center

Docents lead a tour of the Center


Docent-led tours of the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center are held on the second Saturday of the month between
10 am - 1 pm for the general public. No reservation is necessary.

School tours

Volunteer Docents, who are trained to instruct third-grade school children in the ancient ways of the Kumeyaay, conduct the tours and activities. Instruction is through lecture, a site tour, and hands-on activities. Historical Tours are $4 per student. More information.

Docents teach children about Kkumeyaay historySite Tour (30-45 minutes)
Students will tour the hilly site, circling upward to the mortar bedrock area where the Kumeyaay families met to prepare acorns and other food items. Students learn where the Kumeyaay lived seasonally and about plants used for construction, medicinal purposes, and food. Sometimes wildlife is discussed during this portion of the tour. Students will see ancient milling stones and interesting rock formations.

Student clothing should be appropriate for outdoor activity and weather.

Hands-On Activity (40-60 minutes)
Students break into three (3) groups and rotate through three different activities:

• Group 1 – Rock Art
Discuss pictographs
Each student will create their own “spirit rock” with paint pens on a cobblestone, which may be taken home at the end of the tour.

• Group 2 – Kumeyaay Stick Game
Students become familiar with Kumeyaay numbering and counting while playing a game with painted wooden counting and game sticks.

• Group 3 – Acorn Grinding/Shawii
In the replica Kumeyaay ‘ewaa (house), students will learn about oak trees and acorns and how the Kumeyaay utilized them in their daily lives. Acorns do have nut meat. The students will make a Shawii from the acorns. A traditional grinding stone is used during this activity.

trail at the Center interior of an ewaa


The trail takes visitors around the site, past ramadas, interpretive signage, native gardens, irrigation systems and a Kumeyaay house (‘ewaa). These were constructed by various Eagle Scout candidates and adult volunteers. Visitors will see plants used by past inhabitants, ramadas that provided shade from the hot sun, milling stations where they ground acorns, and large boulders which provided them with shelter and security. As you walk through the site, please do not disturb the exhibits or grounds so future generations can enjoy the area.

Education Center

basket exhibitAt the edge of this heritage site, along an all-weather road, now sits a modern modular building to house and protect important displays. Other upgrades include parking for the handicapped, an ADA accessible walkway to the ‘ewaa, and a low-water irrigation system for a demonstration garden of drought-tolerant plants often used by the Kumeyaay. These features were funded by the City of Poway, the Friends of Kumeyaay Ipai Interpretive Center, the Metropolitan Water District, and a grant from the Cultural and Heritage Commission of the State of California. The nearly $800,000 investment allows the Friends to preserve and interpret the history of Poway and the culture of Kumeyaay people who named the valley Pauwai.

arrowheadsThe Center’s exhibits highlight artifacts of the site, replica items of Kumeyaay daily living, and a striking photographic exhibition of North County rock art still visible today. There is also an extensive research library and a special section on native plants and rock art.


© Friends of the Kumeyaay Friends of the Kumeyaay is a non-profit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible. Mail your donation to P.O. Box 724, Poway Ca 92074-0724. Thank you!