Painted Rock Petroglyph Site

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Painted Rock Petroglyph Site

Wrapping up our tour through White Sands & Organ Pipe National Monument we took a quick detour for an evening to Painted Rock Petroglyph Site.  Only a short drive from Gila Bend, we decided to spend a few nights checking out the location and photographing the petroglyphs.

You’ll note that in the above paragraph I said we spent a night, but later said we were going to spend a few nights.  No, not some type of paradox, read on…..This is going to be a short article, but thought we’d share it all the same.

The site itself is on BLM land, and offers dry camping for RV’ers and tent camping as well.  I’ve read about many other full time RV’ers stopping into the location, and seen photos of the petroglyphs, so we had to stop in and give the location a whirl.

At $8 per night for camping, it’s not a bad spot.  We had 3 bars of 4G LTE, so you can definitely work from the location.  And beyond that, we start slipping away from the positive.  Yes, this is a safe and reasonable place to overnight, but you wouldn’t see me staying there long term.  Why?

We were actually let down by the Petroglyphs.  Why were we let down?

Writing from 1879 and 1907
Writing from 1879 and 1907

As you can see above, the “petroglyphs” are mixed in with other carvings in the rocks.  Someone signing in from 1879, and another from 1907.  But wait….whoever etched these could be faking the dates too.  So who knows when some of these signatures were created, and what petroglyphs are real.

Who is DEW, and why do I care?
Who is DEW, and why do I care?

Touring around the rock mound that hosts all of the petroglyphs you start noticing rock art overlapping other rock art.  You also start noticing images that don’t fit with others, or that look like mock ups of real petroglyphs.  But discerning which ones are real, and which ones have been created recently isn’t obvious.  Yes, some are legitimate, but the defacing of the site takes a lot away from it.

Sadly we came away without shooting a lot of the petroglyphs.  Jodi and I were both disappointed by the modern petroglyphs mixed in with real ones.  And yes, there is a caretaker on site, and the BLM does watch over the site.  There’s a nice loop walk with information about the location, who lived there and when, and lots of other historical information.  But after seeing many petroglyph sites, this one seemed to have too many, and often times too large to be legit carvings.  Plus with all the signatures in English, it really diminished everything for us.

So, wrapping up.  Cheap dry camping, Internet connection if you’re using wireless, warmer temperatures, and the “petroglyphs.”

Painted Rock Petroglyph Gallery

As you can see, lots of defacing of the area.  The only thing missing was somebody’s phone number.  So instead of staying a few days, we pulled out the next morning.  If you need an overnight stop near Gila Bend, or need a quiet place to write your next novel and upload it to your publisher, this spot will work well.  If you want to see amazing and real petroglyphs?  I know of other places….

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