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Deer Valley Rock Art Center

Native American Petroglyphs in Phoenix


Petroglyphs at the Deer Valley Rock Art Center in Phoenix, AZ

Find petroglyphs at the Deer Valley Rock Art Center

© Judy Hedding

In the north part of the Valley a wonderful surprise awaits you. The Deer Valley Rock Art Center has been open to the public since 1994, but I never knew it existed until the Phoenix Pride Commission named the Rock Art Center to the list of Phoenix Points of Pride in May 2000. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Deer Valley Rock Art Center is operated by Arizona State University School of Human Evolution & Social Change. The land is leased to the University by the Flood Control District of Maricopa County, which owns the land. The building housing the indoor exhibits was built by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of the agreement arising from the construction of the Adobe Dam in 1980.

So what is it?
The Deer Valley Rock Art Center is the location of the Hedgpeth Hills petroglyph site. There are more than 1,500 recorded petroglyphs on almost 600 boulders. Research is still being conducted on the 47 acre site.

What's a petroglyph?
A petroglyph is a marking carved into a rock usually using a stone tool. Some of the petroglyphs were made 10,000 years ago.

Who made them?
The petroglyphs at Hedgpeth Hills were made by American Indian people over a period spanning thousands of years.

Why are they important?
Petroglyphs represent concepts and beliefs that were important to the people that carved them. Some of them may have religious significance. Occasionally you will see a series of carvings that might be telling a story of some kind. Some of the carvings are of animals and may relate to hunting. Petroglyphs are important because they represent a permanent record of people and their migrations.

Why did the people come to this particular place?
This location appears to have been known as a sacred site for many tribes and generations of Native American peoples. Hedgpeth Hills may have been well known to American Indian people throughout the ages due to the confluence of various water sources and the fact that the site was east facing (toward the rising sun).

What can I expect to see?
You will be able to see an instructional video and exhibits in the indoor facility. Outside, there is a marked trail that takes you on a quarter-mile easy walk on a dirt path through the most concentrated area of boulders. You will see lots of petroglyphs! Bring your binoculars or you can rent some there. There are written materials for self-guided tours and guided tours are available for larger groups and schools. The entrance fee is very reasonable and the people are very helpful. Your visit will probably take between one and 1-1/2 hours.

When can I visit and where is it?
Deer Valley Rock Art Center is located in North Phoenix at 3711 W. Deer Valley Road, not far from where the Loop 101 and I-17 intersect. It is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday in May through September, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday October through April. There is an admission charge, however admission is usually free on Smithsonian Museum Day in September. Call 623-582-8007 for more information.

All dates, times, prices and offerings are subject to change without notice.

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