Deer Valley Rock Art Center

The Deer Valley Rock Art Center presents a far older picture of Arizona history, a history of the Native Trailpeople inhabiting this valley long centuries ago. The site was discovered during the construction of the Adobe Dam in 1980 at a location known as Hedgpeth Hills, and was developed by the Flood Control District of Maricopa County. While the Flood Control District owns the dam, the land, and the building, Arizona State University operates the site through the School of Human Evolution and Social Change department.

The ancient petroglyphs, images actually carved into the stone as opposed to painted on (pictographs), found here were created hundreds, probably thousands, of years ago by the people living in the area. Each new generation added their own symbolic markings to the local rocks until an artistic record was created for us to wonder at and about today. To this day researchers are still trying to decipher what many of the images mean, although many are easily recognizable as people and animals. This place was obviously important, even sacred, to that ancient race of people. They speak to us today through the carved images they left behind in the desert.

The visitor center, through which you enter the site, is a modest building with exhibits geared more toward children. Once outside, though, children and adults alike will marvel at the 1500 petroglyphs found on a hillside just a quarter-mile walk along a clearly marked path. Along the way the desert plants and geology are certainly interesting, with identifying signs, but the real treat is at the end of the trail where the petroglyphs are located. You could spend much enjoyable time trying to spot all the images, benches under shade are provided for that purpose, and marveling at the ingenuity it took to create them using rough tools.

The Deer Valley Rock Art Center is located on West Deer Valley Road just west of 35th Avenue (watch for the entrance on your right when the road curves). The hours of operation are Tuesday-Saturday 9am to 5pm, Sunday 12pm to 5pm, October through April and Tuesday-Sunday 8am to 2pm May through September.

Both these locations, Pioneer Living History Village and the Deer Valley Rock Art Center, will provide an interesting glimpse into the past of Arizona many visitors do not see, experience, or understand. These two locations are not well advertised and therefore not easy to find, but are definitely worth the time and effort to do so if you are even remotely interested in the lives and beliefs of the people who were here long ago and who helped shape the Arizona we know today.