This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Petroglyphs on the rocks along Skunk Creek, Phoenix, Arizona.


Today I visited the petroglyphs along Skunk Creek at the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve, which is at 37th Avenue and Deer Valley in Phoenix, Arizona. I'm interested in history, and I live in the west valley, and was surprised to find that I never even realized it was there. It's a pretty cool place, especially if you're a time traveler.

The building itself is simply a bridge over Skunk Creek. There are the usual displays explaining about the Hohokams, but the real attraction is a trail along the edge of volcanic rocks that have symbols on them, called petroglyphs (petro means rock and glyph means symbol). You are walking along the edge of Skunk Creek, and seeing it as it would have been hundreds, maybe thousands, of years ago when the Hohokam people lived there.

Since I'm interested in tying all of this together to historic and modern Phoenix, I also enjoyed seeing the Adobe Dam, which was built in 1982. There's even an interesting movie that shows how the archeologists carefully inspected the site before the dam was built.

If you go there, be sure to spend some quiet time. This is a sacred place, and you should be able to feel it. No, no one is really sure what all of the petroglyphs mean, or exactly how these people lived. You can listen to a lot of theories, and you can discuss it if you'd like. Personally, I just liked being there, and walking with the Hohokams.

Looking south at Skunk Creek from the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve.

Adobe Dam. You're looking north from the Hedgpeth Hills. When Skunk Creek floods, this dam catches most of it. Skunk Creek makes a sharp turn there, goes through the dam in a spillway, under the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve, then empties out at New River in Peoria.


This archaeology museum and 47-acre Sonoran Desert preserve is home to the largest concentration of Native American petroglyphs in the Phoenix area.
Open to the public for tours, the Will Bruder-designed facility serves as the primary exhibition space for the Center for Archaeology and Society.