Signal Hill Petroglyphs in Saguaro National Park, Arizona

May 11, 2023

Signal Hill Petroglyphs #1

Signal Hill Petroglyphs #2

Photographer: Rick Stankiewicz    
Summary Author: Rick Stankiewicz   

Located in the Tuscan Valley within Saguaro Nation Park of Arizona, just 26 km (16 mi) northwest of Tuscan, is the Signal Hill Petroglyph Site. It’s easily accessible by vehicle to the picnic area and trail head. From there, the walking trail is only 0.8 km (0.5 mi) round trip. The actual Signal Hill Site is approximately 65 m (200 ft) in diameter and 13 m (40 ft) high.

These petroglyphs (rock carvings) were made by the Hohokam People, between A.D. 200 to 1450. There are over 200 glyphs discovered so far and they’re typically geometric designs, versus human or animal (anthropomorphic) figures, which occur in higher proportions at many other sites across the America’s (top photo).

The glyphs were likely made by using smaller rocks to peck at the display surfaces or hammer-chisel technique may have been used. In either case, designs are created on the “Desert or Rock Varnish," the dark patina of naturally oxidized iron and manganese that forms on the rock surface. Once this is removed it exposes the lighter source rock that lies beneath (bottom photo).

Warning: Tread lightly, as there are warnings of poisonous snakes (rattlers), scorpions and Gila monsters in the area. I wasn’t lucky or unlucky enough to have seen any though. Other warnings to heed are to stay on the paths provided and do not touch or climb on the rocks at this site. All places like this are sacred and fragile, so respect your heritage. Photos taken on September 28, 2013.

Photo details: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi camera; 24 mm; ISO 200; F/8.0; 1/125 second exposure.


Saguaro National Park, Arizona Coordinates: 32.2905694, -111.20638939

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