Today I went to Painted Rock Petroglyph National Monument 28 miles outside of Gila Bend, AZ. There were only 8 other people there with plenty of room to generously space ourselves appropriately. I’m happy that national parks and monuments are still open for careful exploration.
It’s an easy flat quarter mile loop nature trail. I was surprised at how many petroglyphs there were. The Painted Rock Site is the largest known site of petroglyphs with about 800 images. The petroglyphs are pecked onto weathered basalt boulders overlaying a granite outcrop.
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 (8000-1000 BC) 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.