King Canyon Wash Petroglyphs

Round Trip Distance: 1.7 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 2874 - 3181 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: King Canyon
Fee: $25/vehicle
Attractions: Scenic desert, petroglyphs

King Canyon Wash is found in the Tuscon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park in Tuscon, Arizona. The trail begins near the King Canyon trailhead where it travels up a scenic wash for just under 1 mile before coming to an end a little below the Mam-A-Gah Picnic Area. Numerous petroglyphs left by the Hohokam and O'odham people can be found near several spillovers a short distance before the wash rejoins the King Canyon trail.

The King Canyon trailhead is right across the road from the Desert Museum in the Tuscon Mountains Park. For turn-by-turn directions enter the well known King Canyon Trailhead into you driving app.

A few feet behind the trailhead kiosk take the route that leads down into the wash.

As spillovers are encountered while hiking up the wash the larger ones will have relatively easy side routes that can be taken to get past them. A little scramble will get you over the others.

Somewhere around the 3/4 mile point from the trailhead one of the larger spillovers comes up that requires hiking around on the right side. This is where the petroglyphs begin showing up. A few can be found on both sides of a large boulder that is right above the spillover. A handful more of images are scattered all along the cliffs above that. The talus slope leading up to the higher petroglyphs is semi treacherous if you are hoping for any closeup photos.

Some of the higher images show up well from the wash where a good zoom lens will come in handy.

Just past that spillover is another where scores of images can be found on both sides of the wash. There seems to be hardly a surface, both high and low, that doesn't have a petroglyph. A few of the best ones are tucked away in hidden places between the rocks.

After getting accustomed to spotting the faded and somewhat camouflaged images geometric patterns of every shape, interspersed with a few anthropomorphic figures, begin to reveal themselves.

Our observation of other hikers showed them to be completely oblivious of the petroglyphs as they hiked through the wash. That is how well, at a casual glance, they blend in to the surrounding rocks. Once discovered though there seems to be no end to them as they appear to pop up everywhere.

Images can also be found on the west side of the wash after climbing over the spillover. Look on all the rocks beside the wash and on the bench above the spillover.

 Just one more of the many interesting petroglyphs.

The trail comes to a junction a few hundred feet past the last spillover where a choice of routes are presented for returning to the trailhead. Besides simply returning the way you came you have the option of hiking up to the picnic ramada and then back to the trailhead via the Gould Mine trail on the west side of the wash or taking the King Canyon trail, the shortest route, on the east side.

While our purpose for hiking the King Canyon Wash trail was to search out the Hohokam/O'odham petroglyphs all the many other hikers on that day were simply in the area to get some exercise on some enjoyable trails. Being desert it can get quite hot at times and like anywhere else you have to watch for snakes and give them the right of way if you encounter any. Remember that it is illegal to do anything that will damage the petroglyphs and not to leave any marks of your own. If you would like to see them for yourself all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.