Petrified Forest National Park Celebrates the Summer Solstice
Contact: Hallie Larsen, 928-524-6228 x274
Petrified Forest—Around the world, cultures have been fascinated with the passage of the seasons and movements of the sun and moon, creating such places as Stonehenge in the United Kingdom, Carnac Stones of France, and Uxmal in the Yucatan. For several thousand years the prehistoric people of the Southwest have made their own versions of these ancient calendars. Solar calendars are petroglyphs which interact with sunlight and shadow as the sun moves across the sky to mark the passage of the seasons. Solar calendars have been discovered throughout the Southwest marking the summer and winter solstices, the equinoxes, and the cross-quarter days in between.
One of these solar markers is located at Puerco Pueblo, eleven miles from the north entrance of the park, seventeen miles from the south entrance. A short paved trail leads through Puerco Pueblo to a boulder featuring a small spiral petroglyph that marks the summer solstice. For a two week period between June14 and June 28, a shaft of sunlight is projected onto the boulder and travels down the side to touch the center of the spiral, peaking about 9 am. Rangers will be at the site between 8:30 am and 9:30 pm. Join us for this remarkable event!
A free publication about the solar marker will also be available upon request at the visitor centers and the park website. A virtual exhibit featuring archaeo-astronomy, in particular Petrified Forest National Park's petroglyphs, will also be at the park website: http://www.nps.gov/pefo.For information call (928) 524-6228, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time; or write to the Superintendent, Petrified Forest National Park, P.O. Box 2217, Petrified Forest, AZ 86028; or e-mail the park Superintendent
Did You Know?
Petrified wood was so abundant when the ancestral Puebloan people were living in the area that they used it not only for stone tools but also as building material, such as the "brick" used in Agate House at Petrified Forest National Park.