Join us on a hike down into Cottonwood Canyon to explore the fascinating petroglyphs left behind by the Hohokam Indians. Discover their images of spirals, lizards, animals, and human figures.
- Trip Outline
The Hohokam Indians are a prehistoric people and some of the earliest residents of the area. The Hohokam were desert dwellers who were able to capitalize on the few water resources available and survive for hundreds of years by irrigating and farming. The main area of their habitation was the Gila-Salt river basin.
The Hohokam Indians disappeared in about 1450 leaving little written record of their experience. Perhaps that is why we cherish the petroglyphs and many attempt to interpret them. These petroglyphs are typical Hohokam with images of spirals, lizards, animals, and human figures. One human figure at this site appears to be giving birth.
ABOUT THE HIKE
An easy hiking trail descends into Cottonwood Canyon. Along the way, you will find informational placards that describes the people who may have lived or traveled through the canyon in the past. Some light boulder hopping is required to scamper your way down into the bottom of the canyon.
Watch among the gray rock for varnished brown rocks lining the canyon for petroglyphs. At a little over two thirds of a mile, the canyon starts to narrow and become chocked with boulders. The brown varnished rocks lining the canyon abound with petroglyphs.
It is recommended to take care in the bottom of the canyon in the rainy season from June through August as flash floods are always possible. It is also recommended to use quality hiking shoes and bring plenty of water in the summer months as temperatures in the Arizona desert can easily reach 115 degrees.
Summer: temperatures can exceed 100 degrees and shade is not readily available.
Military Activity: Access to the site involves traveling across State Land Trust which several times of the year is used by the military for war games and live artillery fire. We take caution not to travel during these times. If red flags are posted, read the warning signs for posted dates of military activity.
PARK PASS REQUIRED (Additional $15 Fee)
There is a park pass that you must purchase online for $15 to hike into the canyon. You must purchase and have with you the permit titled: “Recreational Permit – Group/Less than 20 people (Less than 5 days)” Buy your permit here: https://land.az.gov/applications-and-permits
Cottonwood Canyon Petroglyphs
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