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 about a two week period around the summer solstice June 21, 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. There is a wayside exhibit near the petroglyph on the side path from the Puerco Pueblo trail if there are no rangers available. Join us for this remarkable event!
Last updated: June 14, 2015