Our past is all around us here in Phoenix. Just minutes away from our modern world we can take to a desert trail and be transported back thousands of years.

 

Petroglyphs—rock carvings made by scratching away the dark layer of a rock’s surface to reveal the lighter rock underneath—in this region vary from several hundred to more than 7,000 years of age. Here's where to see the creations left behind by ancient native civilizations.

 

South Mountain Park and Preserve

Holbert Trail

This trail is regarded as the best South Mountain trail for petroglyph sightings. Holbert Trail, rated as a difficult hike, also connects hikers to Dobbins Lookout, a popular spot for panoramic views of the city.

10919 S Central Ave, Phoenix 85042
 

Hidden Valley via Mormon Trail

This moderately difficult trail offers easy-to-spot petroglyphs, panoramic views of Phoenix and a natural rock tunnel.

8610 S 24th St, Phoenix 85042

 

Telegraph Pass

Another popular South Mountain hike, this easy-to-moderate 1.5-mile trail is also a wonderful spot for springtime wildflower viewing.

14251 S Desert Foothills Pkwy, Phoenix 85048

 

Holbert Trail South Mountain PetroglyphHolbert Trail at South Mountain Park is a premier trail for petroglyph viewing. (Photo credit: AZRuins.com)

 

Waterfall Trail

This 2-mile trail in White Tank Mountain Regional Park is good for all skill levels. In addition to ancient petroglyphs, hikers will see a variety of cacti and, of course, a waterfall (assuming it’s flowing).

20304 W White Tank Mountain Rd, Waddell 85355

Waterfall trail White Tank MountainWaterfall Trail. Photo via Maricopa County Parks

 

Hieroglyphic Trail

This is a short but sweet 1.5 mile trail (3 miles round trip) in the ruggedly scenic Superstition Mountains. Hikers will find not only petroglyphs at the end of this trail, but also an oasis of natural pools and a waterfall.

Hieroglyphic Trail, Gold Canyon 85118

Hieroglyphic trail flickr
Hieroglyphic Trail. Photo credit johnida/Flickr


 

Arizona State University Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve

The largest concentration of petroglyphs in the greater Phoenix area is at this archaeology museum and Sonoran Desert preserve. More than 1,500 ancient petroglyphs are in view on the half-mile trail loop.

3711 W Deer Valley Rd, Glendale 85308

Deer valley Petroglyph Preserve
ASU Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve. Photo via Facebook

 

Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

Hikers will find several petroglyph displays throughout the seven miles of trails in this conservation area. Spur Cross Ranch also teems with desert wildlife. Keep an eye out for coyotes, snakes, javelinas, a wide variety of birds, and other desert critters. The area’s trails vary in difficulty.

44000 N Spur Cross Rd, Cave Creek 85331

Usery Mountain Regional Park PetroglyphsMetate Trail in Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. Photo via Maricopa County Park