It is not something you get a chance to see too often. You may not even know what a petroglyph is. Basically, a petroglyph is an image that is etched or chiseled into stone. When you take a short 24-minute drive from the Best Western Plus Scottsdale Thunderbird Suites to the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve (3711 W. Deer Drive, Phoenix), you’ll not only learn all about petroglyphs, but you’ll also be able to get a look at more than 1,500 of them.
A Sacred Site
Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve consists of a small museum and a 47-acre Sonoran Desert preserve. The preserve protects the Hedgpeth Hills petroglyph site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The petroglyphs were created by Native Americans. It is not known why the local tribes created these etchings in rock. One theory is that the images represent significant events (like wars, drought, floods) or are depictions of the Native American tribe’s normal way of life. Many Native American tribes consider this area to be a sacred site.
Planning a Visit
Wear sturdy and comfortable shoes as the majority of your visit will be spent outdoors. While the Preserve covers 47 acres, to protect the historical petroglyphs, most of your viewing will need to be done on the quarter-mile unpaved trail. Follow the numbered signs that indicate specific points of interest. To get a close-up view, bring binoculars (or you can rent some for a dollar). If you want to get some great pictures of the historical stone etchings, bring a camera with a powerful zoom lens.
Before you go out to the archaeological site, you should spend some time in the museum. An ongoing exhibit called Leaving Marks: The Rock Art and Archaeology of Deer Valley enhances the anticipation for what you are about to see. Watch the orientation film, use the interactive computer kiosks, and have fun at the hands-on activity stations. Take a brochure that describes what you will see at each of the numbered viewing sites along the trail.
City Life: Experiencing the World of Teotihuacan
Take a fascinating look at North America’s first urban civilization. How did they live? Were they really all that different than people are today? Learn about the social dynamics and cultural beliefs of the Teotihuacan people – a culture that predates the Aztecs. An array of artifacts will help you get a better understanding of life long before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. You might just realize that the earliest residents of North America were “more civilized” than some of the population’s people are today.
Gifts and Souvenirs
Take home some mementos and memories by choosing from a wide selection of items at the Glyph Shop. You’ll find everything from apparel and books to jewelry and toys at the Deer Valley Preserve gift shop. Petroglyph stones and walking sticks are the coolest!
Your visit affords you the opportunity to see an impressive array of petroglyphs that date back hundreds and even thousands of years. You’ll also be on 47 acres of unspoiled property where nature is the star. Look around. How many of the 205 native Sonoran plant species can you find? Keep an eye out for the 114 animal species that inhabit the Preserve. Stay away from the snakes and bobcats. In fact, don’t disturb any of the wildlife.
Tour the museum, stay on the trail, and maybe even bring a picnic lunch. Visiting the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve is a great way to spend the day.