Puerco Pueblo

Round Trip Distance: 0.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5334 - 5359 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Puerco Pueblo
Fee: $20/vehicle
Attractions: Indian ruins, petroglyphs

The Puerco Pueblo Trail and petroglyphs are located in the Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook, Arizona. It is estimated that the pueblo was home to several hundred people that farmed terraces along the nearby Puerco River. The pueblo was inhabited between 1250 AD to the late 1300's. Many of the boulders beneath the ridge behind the south side of the pueblo are covered with a large assortment of petroglyphs.

The trailhead is located along the paved Petrified Forest Road just over 10 miles from the north entrance station just off of Interstate 40. The trail that loops through and around the ruins is paved and probably well suited for wheelchairs and baby strollers.

If you pause for a moment at the beginning of the loop you can get a bit of an idea of just how big Puerco Pueblo was. The north wall was about where the loop begins. Taking the left branch of the trail will actually bring you through the north wall and into the inner courtyard.

Most of the pueblo is unexcavated piles of rubble that can be seen along the trail.

Puerco Pueblo had 3 rectangular kivas that were within the courtyard or plaza area within the outer walls of the ruin.

The pueblo was built like a small fortress with an inner courtyard and windowless outer walls. Access to the pueblo would have been by climbing ladders and crossing the mud covered roofs.

There were between 100-125 rooms in the pueblo laid out anywhere from 1 to 3 rooms deep. With this design of rooms forming the outer walls additional rooms could be added by building within the courtyard next to the already completed rooms.

The boulders below the hill are a storybook of very interesting petroglyphs. Some of the petroglyphs look similar to those seen elsewhere. One of the images, a circular design, is situated in just the right spot that it marks the passing of the summer solstice with a shaft of light that descends down the surface of the rock and penetrates the circle. This remarkable occurrence can be viewed around 0830 each morning between June 14th and the 28th.

Numerous petroglyphs of various animals, symbols and Kachina cover the rocks.

This petroglyph is similar to one found at the Cajon Group in Hovenweep National Monument.

A broken potsherd on the ground that seems to span the centuries taking you back in time 600-800 years as though whispering to your sole a message from the people that once toiled upon this spot and called it home. If we find sites like this special imagine how much more so their descendants that still live in the southwest today must hold them dear to their hearts.

The Puerco Pueblo is a must for anyone visiting the Petrified Forest. If you are planning a trip try to make time for a stop at the Painted Desert Inn, the Puerco Pueblo, Crystal Forest and take a stroll on the Giant Logs trail as a bare minimum. After those locations your visit will be further enhanced with as many of the other stops that you can find time to take in. From petrified wood strewn upon the ground to ancient ruins, petroglyphs and the scenic vistas of the Painted Desert the Petrified Forest National Park has much to offer its visitors. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.