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    Saguaro

    National Park Arizona

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  • Tucson Mountain District Roads Closed Due to Flash Flooding

    Several interior roads, including the scenic loop, are closed in Tucson Mountain District (west) due to severe storms and flash flooding on August 26th. Roads will remain closed until further notice. Check the park's facebook page for updated information More »

  • Labor Day Run - Rincon Mountain District Road Closure - Sept. 1st

    Due to the Annual Labor Day Run, Saguaro National Park's Rincon Mountain District Loop Drive will be closed from 4:00am to approx 10:30am on Sept. 1, 2014. Please be advised of vehicle congestion along roadsides when approaching the park during this time. More »

Petroglyphs

Signal Hill 1957

Signal Hill, Saguaro National Park - Tucson Mountain District

NPS Photo

Petroglyphs in the Park

Rock art, in the form of etched petroglyphs and painted pictographs, can be found in rocky areas throughout the southwestern United States, including Saguaro National Park.

 
Petroglyphs

NPS Photos

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Messages in Stone

Most southwestern rock art pre-dates modern written history and had it's origins hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years ago, created by the people of this region. Most of the rock art found in Saguaro National Park were created by the prehistoric Hohokam and is in the form of petroglyphs. These are created by etching, pecking or scraping designs into the dark patina found on the surface of sandstone and other rocks.

 

Both representational and abstract designs can be seen in Hohokam petroglyphs. Representational images are often animals, humans and astrological objects.

 
Petroglyphs

Abstract designs take many forms, including spirals and squiggly lines.

 
Petroglyph spirals

What Does it Mean?

Did rock art serve a purpose? Was it communication or decoration? We can only guess at the intended meaning of the artist. We may look at rock as a reflection of Hohokam culture. Some possible purposes of rock art include: hunting, fertility or spiritual symbols; boundary markers or landmarks; records of important events; clan symbols; and solstice and calendar markers.

Where Can I see Petroglyphs in Saguaro National Park?
Petroglyphs can easily be seen by walking the Signal Hill Trail in the Tucson Mountain District (West). Starting from the Signal Hill Picnic Area, the trail gently climbs to a hill covered with dozens of 800-year-old petroglyphs.

Help Preserve Our Petroglyphs!
Oils from your hands can actually damage the petroglyphs. We invite you to take lots of photographs, but please don't leave any fingerprints.

 
Rock Art Panel

NPS Photo

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Did You Know?

The forest of the Saguaro Wilderness Area.

Saguaro National Park is more than just a desert park. In fact, the highest point in the eastern district is Mica Mountain at 8,666 ft. There you will find a dense forest of Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, alligator-bark juniper, and aspen.