Posts Tagged With: petroglyphs


In 2009 we hiked to Fort Bowie, near Chiriacahua National Monument and caught a glimpse of the Butterfield Trail. I knew it was a stagecoach line to deliver the mail out west. We hadn’t even read the BLM information on the Painted Rock Petroglyphs when we say hello to a stranger who just happens to be an expert on the Butterfield Trail and this whole area in general. He just published a book,  The Butterfield Trail And Overland Mail Company In Arizona. Jerry Ahnert’s  book was identified by the government as the definitive historical work on the subject.

The Butterfield Trail ran from Missouri to the Pacific, 3,000 miles, a transcontinental highway, that passes near the petroglyphs. In fact, Butterfield was a New Yorker with stage lines in the East. He hired two guys, named Wells and Fargo. They all drove stages at one time, according to Jerry.

Petroglyphs have ancient origins and these are typical of two Indian Tribes, the Hohokam and Patayan who peopled this area as long ago as 4,000 years. Various indicators date them  as late as the 1600s. If I were to interpret this drawing, it appears to me to be a pregnant woman with a round fat middle. The experts call the fat drawings like this one lizard men?

An upside down figure of a man or animal is said to be dead.

A glyph from 1912 giving directions, it appears. The Old Immigrant Trail, The Morman Trail and other major expeditions traveled the same or similar routes through the West and passed near this obvious outcropping in a terrain that is distinctively flat.

A donkey or horse with a rider dates the drawing after the Spanish brought horses to North America.

A fish above a river.

Lizards, snakes, scorpions, are common themes.

To me, this resembles a child sitting down, the way children do. The experts I’m sure disagree.

The spirals are typical of Hohokam drawings.

Impossible to tell if the drawing is  a dog or a coyote. It had significance to the artist.

To me the main figure here resembles an elephant?  Could it be an older glyph of a  mammoth?

The figure near the bottom is possibly a bearded goat?

It was fun. I took way to many pictures. More tomorrow. But, the following picture is of a sign placed by the Mormon boy scouts approximately 50 years ago. They ventured forth to mark the Morman Trail. On that spot you can stand and envision Kit Carson, Big Foot Wallace and Pomp, Sacajawea’s son who grew up to be a scout.


I’ll publish an album of the “ancient graffiti”  within a few days. I have some culling to do.

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Painted Rocks Historic Park, Arizona.

Yesterday we drove to about 80 miles from Wellton, AZ to Painted Rocks Historic Park.

Along to way instead of being out on Interstate Highway 8, whenever possible I chose to drive on Old U.S. Highway 80…aka the Ocean To Ocean Highway. In this area of Arizona the old highway parallels the Gila River which in the old days was the major highway for pioneers moving westward to California. Modern man has changed that and it is now just a dribble. You can read about the Gila River by clicking this Wikipedia link…

You can read all about the Painted Rocks Petroglyphs by click this BLM link…

and this Wikipedia link…

Here’s what the petroglyph site looks like on Google Earth…

As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view…

From a higher elevation you can see Interstate Highway 8 about 12 miles to the south. You can also see the Gila Riverbed flowing towards the lower left…

This is my second time here. I was first here in January 1996. It’s a lot different from I remember as very remote and quiet…like it was the end of the World. We were the only people here. Not so now. There are about 12 RV’s in the campground and trucks roaring by on a nearby road. Heck, there’s even a four-bar Internet and cell phone signal.

But then, I have trouble remembering what happened yesterday! 🙂

Now that you know all about the petroglyphs, here are some of the photos I took while there…

These are the two petroglyph hills as seen from our campsite, they are maybe 50 feet high. The hill on the right has the most petroglyphs as it was closer to the Mormon Battalion Trail where all the pioneers such as Kit Carson passed…

Shortly after our arrival we met a local expert. Jerry Ahnert has been studying the trail for 42 years. He gave us about a 1/2 hour seminar about the history of the trail which also served the Butterfield Overland Mail Company.

In the above photo, he told us the white skull marked the actual trail…even though there were no signs identifying it. We presume it’s to keep it from being stolen.

Turning 180 degrees and looking west…this is what the trail looks like today…

He has written a book entitled “The Butterfield Trail And Overland Mail Company of Arizona, 1858-1861. It presents a very detailed of the history of the 400 mile portion of the trail in Arizona. Mary bought his book for $29.95. To order you can contact him at

Here are some other photos that I took…

And finally…a panorama sunset shot. The two petroglyph hills are to the right of the motorhome and above the Bronco…

And finally finally…a cloudless desert sunset with a jet plane exhaust trail, a quarter moon and the planet Venus in the background…

To see the remaining photos that I took…click this link…

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2012
For more information about my three books, click this link:

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Red Rock Canyon lies twenty miles west of Las Vegas. You drive through gray desert and suddenly this huge outcropping pops out of the desert floor. Its on BLM land and is preserved for all to enjoy. The way to see it best is to stop at the visitors center first. Great paintings and video of wild life, wild flowers, and animals show on a continuous loop. You pay seven dollars a car load to get in the gate. Its a thirteen mile drive with many pullouts for photo opportunities and entrances to marked hiking trails. People come here to hike, bike, ride horses and rock climb. The other alternative is to take a Fifty-nine dollar tour bus into the site.

The first area, called calico, we hiked a bit. I have to be careful because my right arm is in a sling and I can’t take a chance on falling. We enjoyed watching the climbers practice on an easy perpendicular wall. That is, easy for them.
Jim enjoys taking photos and he is very good at it. Here the rocks look like pudding has puddled into great flat pancakes.

Well, maybe that isn’t such a good shot of the pancakes.

Just add syrup.

The colors are incredible. One moment you are looking at white or beige and immediately next to it is deep red rock.

It appears as though a giant paint brush swabbed on the red.

The drive takes you on a loop that rises to 4,447 feet where other formations appear

We only spent a couple hours here, but I could easily have spent the whole day and hiked into some of the interesting canyon sights, like petroglyphs.

When I spotted this rock from a distance, I thought it was petroglyphs, but it wasn’t. The natural coloring is interesting even so.

The textures etched by sand and wind; the plants that survive severe climate, amaze.
This land is occupied by a host of animals, most likely visible by chance when hiking in the wilderness. And, wild burros are common here, though obviously not native. Signs on the road warn you to watch for burros crossing. The visitor center warns you not to feed them and how to avoid encounters with them.

The day was windy and cold. We strained to see mountain goats where grazing plants were obvious.

The sky was a stunning blue, the rocks will stand for centuries, and we can return another day.

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