Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve

Round Trip Distance: 0.8 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 1310 - 1330 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 45 mins.
Trailhead: 3711 West Deer Valley Road
Fee: $9, (7-12) $5, (6 and under) free
Attractions: museum, petroglyphs

The Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve is located in the Glendale area of the greater metropolitan area of Phoenix, Arizona. The site is administrated by the Arizona State University and protects over 1,500 Western Archaic, Hohokam, and Patayan petroglyphs that were left upon the basalt boulders of Hedgpeth Hill. At present the Preserve, which includes a small museum, is only open between 8 AM - 12 PM Wednesday through Friday.

The Preserve is about 2.4 miles from Exit 215B on Interstate 17. It works better to enter 'Deer Valley Petroglyph Reserve' in your driving app than it does to use the street address. Google Maps, for instance, places the street address location about a quarter mile away whereas the Deer Valley Petroglyph Reserve takes you right to the parking lot. Either way once you get close all you have to do is follow the signs.

Access to the petroglyph site is through the Visitor Center where you can pay the requisite admission fee. There are plenty of wall displays and exhibits of artifacts to enjoy as you pass through the Visitor Center that serve as a useful orientation to the site.

The accessible hard packed interpretive trail is lined with kiosks that provide even more relative information to each station along the way. About halfway down the trail hikers will find a shaded bench upon which to rest and reflect.

The symbol for the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve is the 'kissing deer' petroglyph which is easily viewable from the trail.

There are a good assortment of petroglyphs that are low enough on the hill to photograph with a standard lens but many fine ones are up quite high. Most are easy to see with the naked eye but photos will require a suitable zoom lens.

The highest concentration of images are near the end of the trail where it seems that most every rock was made use of as a canvas.

This slab with concentric circles is interesting to contemplate. The kiosk that attends it has the usual theme that is taught in places of higher learning that 'we don't know their meaning'. We like to speculate and while doing so, although we might not hit right on the true meaning intended, it at least allows us to thoughtfully contemplate rock art when we see it. This panel has a series of images with a varying number of concentric circles that might represent different times or seasons of the year. As some Native Americans have stated that concentric circles can represent god the panel might have a sacred tone to its overall message. To us it might convey the idea that there is a time for hunting, a time when snakes are most prevalent, a time for the annual rains and a time to celebrate the harvest. If that is a bear paw next to the 2nd from the bottom set of circles it might represent the time for the Bear Dance which was springtime in many traditions. (Accurate? maybe, maybe not; fun to speculate? very.)

These characters are up pretty high up on the hill. The photo was taken with a Canon EOS 7D Mark II using an EF-100-400mm L-series lens for an effective zoom of 640mm. The picture isn't all that great at that far of a zoom but it does bring the boulder in nice and close.

A kiosk at the Painted Rock Petroglyph Site near Gila Bend identifies this as a petroglyph representing snakes. That seems very fitting for this area.

They have a nice assortment of metates (grinding stones) on display along the trail. Notice the one that is 2nd from the top that stands on 3 knobby legs. Quite a lot of work was put into that design which was more common that one might think.

Our opinion is that the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve is well worth the price of admission. It has the look and feel of a National Monument and the number of individual petroglyphs to see is impressive. The meager fee helps to support the operation of the Visitor Center with its museum and air conditioned restrooms. The work that they have done to protect the site is refreshing when compared to most sites that don't even receive a 'Please Don't Erase the Traces of America's Past' sign that makes the uninformed aware of the laws protecting such archeological sites.

If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.