Painted Rock Petroglyphs, Arizona
It wasn’t a long jump from Wellton to the Painted Rock Petroglyph site and campground. Eighty four miles, a bit more than an hour. A nice break as the cats were looking like they were braced for the worst. Gamora threw up as soon as we put her in the truck…:( The first few drives have not been smooth so we hoped this one would pacify her fears for awhile! It’s located eleven miles North of the Interstate 8 on a small paved road. I’d found you could reserve a site over the Winter months, so did. It’s dry camping but the the sites are large, I just happened to pick one with a twist and turn. I wouldn’t want to be in here when it’s pouring rain! Our site looked like it could be underwater at times!
The archaeological site containing hundreds of figures and designs carved into rocks, known as petroglyphs. These were produced centuries ago by indigenous peoples. The area is mostly flat and sandy with May-Oct daytime temperatures in the 100s. The annual rainfall is only about six inches and the nearest irrigational water is the Gila River. In prehistoric times the Gila flowed west out of the mountains of western New Mexico.
Although considered a Hohokam rock art site, Painted Rock is on the extreme western edge of the Hohokam cultural area. East of Painted Rock, petroglyphs take on more typical Hohokam characteristics, while petroglyphs farther west take on more Patayan characteristics. Found here and in nearby areas of the Gila River are petroglyphs of Archaic origin. Painted Rock also bears the inscriptions of historic passers-by. Juan Bautista de Anza passed near here during his 1775-1776 expedition, followed by the Mormon Battalion in the 1840s, the Butterfield Overland Mail, and countless numbers of pioneers. During World War II, General George Patton used this area as headquarters for tank training–Wikipedia
Painted Rock Petroglyph site is a bit of a misnomer. A Jesuit called it “piedras pintados” in 1748 but in truth they are etched into the outer surface of the rocks over a period of 1400 years. There is recent graffiti from idiots and assholes, even in 1879 and 1909. This sight is still sacred to the O’Odham and Piipaash tribes.
It is such a small hill but so many etchings. 3800 individual designs on 428 boulders!
The amazing variety of animal and desert life is depicted here, you feel far removed from Western civilization and ensuing mayhem they caused here. The parks gives as much sign time to the Spaniards, wagon trains and white men than to the actual history of those that made the petroglyphs, I felt that was unfair. History is written by the conquerors…:(
The late day sun brings out the amazing colours in the rocks. You can walk around the small pile of boulders in ten minutes but it’s much better to linger and guess what some of the shapes mean! Aliens and cats, I swear I saw them! Most of the petroglyphs are on the SW side. I read the Hohokam style petroglyphs consists of an assortment of lines and geometric patterns.
The rocks are fenced, someone asked why? Because of the assholes, even back in 1909 that had to add their art and “I was here” mark. Many have been stolen as well I read. What is wrong with people? It hosts one of North America’s densest concentrations of petroglyphs. The petroglyphs have been attributed to the Western Archaic Style, 7500 B.C. to about A.D. 1, and the Gila Style of the Hohokam people, 300 BC to AD 1450.
There are pit toilets and a dumpster here and a few information signs but little else! I put my hummingbird feeder out and an Anna’s claimed it pretty quickly! Not much blooming here! A brave Harris Antelope squirrel made a quick appearance before seeing the cats and he skadoodled away quickly! Later in the evening you could hear the coyotes howling.
We had our trusty little Honda generator to charge the batteries later in the day and the inverter and batteries are always a luxury! We had neighbours the first day but they left the next morning. A truck and camper top pulled in with a trailer and they were walking their big orange cat on a leash as well! 🙂 Groot, Gamora and Rocket were obsessed with the lizards, I think they were the Common Whiptails. They didn’t stick around and let me take their picture!
We ended our 2nd day with a beautiful moonrise over the petroglyphs and and orange red sunset to wash it down! We had one day booked at Catalina State Park North East of Tucson we were looking forward to seeing. Our last time trying to get into Catalina State Park the camp entrance was closed due to flooding in the arroyo, a lot of water, reservation or not, no one was getting in or out! Stay tuned for trials and tribulations with drifting trailer jacks once again…but that is another story! Saludos amigos!