North Start Road Petroglyphs

Round Trip Distance: 0.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 1750 - 1811 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: North Start Rd.
Trailhead: 32.83419, -111.38384
Fee: $15/individual per year
Attractions: petroglyphs

The North Start Road Petroglyph Site can be found in the Picacho Mountains about 16 miles from Interstate 10 and Eloy, Arizona. Found at the site are scores of Hohokam (and maybe a few other styles) petroglyphs that were etched onto a large number of basalt boulders that form a small foothill of the Picacho Mountain Range. The site sits on Arizona State Trust Land which requires visitors to purchase a permit for access.

From Exit 211 on Interstate 10 drive north on AZ-87 for 3.6 miles and turn right onto the Houser Road. Continue for 5.2 miles and turn left onto the Brady Pump Road. After another 2.8 miles the pavement ends. It is another 3 miles of dirt roads to the trailhead. Passenger cars will have to use their own judgement on whether or not to park and hike to the trailhead. We saw 2wd vehicles on the day we were there but thought a 4wd with moderate ground clearance would be more advisable. For turn by turn directions we entered the GPS coordinates for the trailhead into Google Maps.

The easiest thing is probably to purchase your permit before hand from www.AZLand.gov/rp. It's not uncommon to need a permit to visit other similar sites within the state and one permit covers all Arizona State Trust Land for the year. An individual permit currently goes for $15 while it is only $20 for a family. There was a good enough cellphone signal for us to get on the website and purchase a permit right there before entering the site.

There are plenty of boulders with petroglyphs down at the base of the hill. All you have to do is start walking around to see them.

That said, there are some really nice petroglyphs higher up the hill on many of the larger boulders. It's a bit precarious scrambling up the hill and climbing over boulders to get close up photos and if you can resist the urge you will have done better than me. Many of the images can be seen from below but there are quite a few on the backside and top of rocks that you have to climb to see.

Sorry for the animated GIF but it looked like a big fish to me. I neglected to outline one of the fins.

Multiple boulders have almost a rats nest of geometric and other images.

This is a unique way to represent a persons head from what we are accustomed to seeing.

We've heard it suggested that 2 circles connected by a line represents 2 men talking. Seeing how they use a circle with a dot in the middle to represent a head one might suppose that these connected circles represents a group of people talking. The counter-clockwise spiral is sometimes interpreted to mean 'up' while clockwise would be down. Maybe they were talking about going up somewhere or maybe they came up here to talk.

This might be a farming related panel. The Hohokam were known to create canals to irrigate their crops.

Most all of the petroglyphs are along the blue line in this satellite view. There are other hills nearby that we didn't explore due to a lack of time. Dirt roads travels around and amongst the area and can be taken advantage of for easily getting around.

There may be another name for this site that the locals use. We couldn't find any maps that named anything other than the road that passes by the hill or the Picacho Mountain Range. There could be a dozen other sites in the Picacho Mountains so lacking anything more official we used the name of the road as a reference. It is a great place to enjoy a large number of petroglyphs that isn't too terribly far off the beaten path. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.