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Painted Rock Petroglyphs.


As I turned off the highway towards the site I could not help but see a little irony in the location. I was driving by an extremely large solar array that stands alongside the exit. Today we are using the sun to generate electricity and when these petroglyphs were carved they did not have the neat tools and electricity we have today. Heck, today you could take a portable generator and an electric chisel and carve like crazy almost anyplace.


The Hohokam people once lived and farmed here. The area is mostly flat and sandy with May-Oct daytime temperatures in the 100s. The annual rainfall is only about six inches and the nearest irrigational water is the Gila River.


Over forty petroglyph sites have been recorded in the area, however; most of these sites are small with only a few dozen petroglyphs. The Painted Rock Site is the largest known site with about 800 images. The petroglyphs are pecked onto weathered basalt boulders overlaying a granite outcrop. The outcrop is in the form of an east to west orientated oval about 400' long, and about 20' tall with two small knob tops. Most of the petroglyphs are concentrated on the boulders along the eastern edge, but the petroglyphs face in all directions from that edge.


Painted Rock also bears the inscriptions of historic passers-by. Juan Bautista de Anza passed near here during his 1775-1776 expedition, followed by the Mormon Battalion in the 1840s, the Butterfield Overland Mail, and countless numbers of pioneers. During World War II, General George Patton used this area as headquarters for tank training.