Petroglyphs in Petrified Forest National Park

Day 2 in Petrified Forest National Park found us once again on a ranger led hike, with the same rangers as the day before. This time we were on the south side of I-40 in a different part of the park, and the day’s objective was to find petroglyphs and some native pot shards. Our hike the previous day had only one other person, but this hike was full with 16 people plus the guides! Apparently the local Arizona residents get super-excited by petroglyphs and pot shards, so hikes like these are filled months in advance.

After a long hike across fairly flat land, our first stop was to see “Starving Man”…

…and in addition to the Man, the rock was covered with historic “graffiti” from different time periods and in different styles. The area had a number of petroglyph sites with recognizable human figures and faces, animals…

…and all other manner of images. Once we learned to spot them we found them all over the place out there.

In addition to the petroglyphs, we saw some interesting pieces of broken pottery. One lady had a book that showed many of the styles to help identify the century when things were made.

The simpler, everyday type of pottery was like this “corrugated” shard…

…and the fancier kind was painted and decorated. The piece she looked up was probably made in the 13th century. Now I understand why these kinds of hikes are so popular!

After a much-needed pause for lunch, we continued our long elliptical path around Martha’s Butte.

We climbed up some bentonite hills to get a better perspective, and the rangers found some petrified wood that had been worked into tools by Native Americans. Even the scattered pieces of petrified wood up there (about 5700′) were bright splashes of color against the soft brown of the ground.

Petrified wood
Petrified wood

Just as with the Painted Desert badlands, the basalt caprock has cracked and crumbled away to reveal the soft bentonite which is easily eroded.

The ravens agree with us – it’s a fantastic place… and yet there’s STILL more that we saw after the long hike… stay tuned.

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