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Patio Area Petroglyph Site, AZ

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Guide 4 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix SW
2.3 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Distance One Way 1 mile
Trailhead Elevation 1,290 feet
Elevation Gain 100 feet
Accumulated Gain 200 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 1.67
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Historic
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
3  2017-02-09 GeeEss
18  2013-09-04 beterarcher
23  2013-04-06 Hansenaz
13  2011-12-18
Along the Gila Trail - Dec2011
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Associated Areas
list map done
Gila River Reservation
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Reservation Gila River
Preferred   Jan, Dec, Feb, Nov
Sun  6:13am - 6:32pm
0 Alternative

The Patio Area is the very southeastern tip of the Sierra Estrellas. Historically, it was the most visited place in the mountain range. For Gila Trail travellers, this marked a rest spot after "short-cutting" the Gila River from Pima Butte, near the junction with the Santa Cruz river, to rejoin the Gila River near present day Gila Bend. They would stop at the Maricopa and Pima villages for rest and water before starting what was considered hardest part of the trip - the 40 mile desert, from the Indian villages, across the southern end of the Estrellas, through the pass in the Maricopa range and then back to the river at Gila Bend. Starting in the late 1840's white settlers going west would use the same trail, stopping at Maricopa Wells and then following the old path west, cutting south of the Estrellas. his route would save them 2-3 days of travel (with wagons!), compared to the easier route following the Gila River north around the mountains.

For all travellers - Native American or Anglo - a mandatory stop was the small flat area at the end of the montain, directly under what is called Montezuma's Head. It was here that people checked their supplies and rested before heading west. Often the trip was made at night to escape the heat, hence the name "jornada de las estrellas" (journey of the stars). The Patio Area is a jumble of large and small rocks piled on top of each other. There are dozens of covered areas under and between rocks where people have sought shelter from the elements. Here they carved hundreds of figures figures in the rock, called petroglyphs, and ground native corn, creating bedrock morters still found in abundence.

The bad news is that people are rapidly destroying the figures or carrying anything than fits in a pickup!!. In the 50's and 60s the site was very clean, now broken glass and trash is everywhere. Some idiots have even used spray paint on the rocks, causing terrible damage to the petroglyphs. This is Reservation land, and if the Indians were to shoot anybody with a paint can, it would be fine by me. As John Annerino said in a book, ours might be the last generation to see these figures (or whats left of them!) More info on this area is in the pages on Maricopa Wells. See =>

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Patio Area Petroglyph Site
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    On my way back from IFNM I planned to see if I could reach this place (thanks Randall for the details). I was mainly concerned about the road legality (GRIC tribe land) and road conditions.

    Let me just say this: I never felt comfortable on the road but I never passed an obvious barricade or no trespassing sign. It's too bad that someone has been dumping old tires along the road.

    The patio area itself was a mixed bag. Many, many nice petroglyph panels but much vandalism (mainly spray paint) too. It's too bad that the vast majority of the glyphs are at the bottom (near the dirt road) where young partiers apparently like to hang around.

    For years I've wanted to try that N-S road on the reservation that parallels the east edge of the Estrellas. Since I was already about 20% of the way, I decided to keep going. Again I was never comfortable (sand kept getting deeper, and incredibly the road kept getting worse as I approached the 'village' of Santa Cruz) but there were no barriers or keep out signs and I made it just fine.
    Patio Area Petroglyph Site
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Along the Gila Trail - Dec2011
    Along the Gila Trail - Dec2011

    Put some miles on the F-150 today dodging rain showers and retracing a section of the GILA TRAIL while on the "trail of the ancients" from;

    Casa Grande Ruins National Monument =>
    Hohokam Pima National Monument (aka "Snaketown") =>
    Patio Area Petroglyph Site =>
    Gatlin Site - Gila Bend =>
    Painted Rocks Petroglyph Site =>
    Sears Point Petroglyph Site =>
    Antelope Hill Petroglyph Site =>
    Confluence of Gila River with Colorado River near Yuma AZ? => Unexplored territory for this author (but suspect the area is rich in ancient artifacts...)

    Missed out on a "drive-by" of the Fortaleza Ruins between the Gatlin Site and Painted Rocks Petroglyph Site => viewtopic.php?t=2915#p32656

    I've embedded in a HAZ FORUM post a reference document I used researching the GILA TRAIL => viewtopic.php?t=6627 . Thought I would share with HAZ members.

    I'd appreciate hearing from anyone with some "insights" on rock art near the confluence of the Gila and Colorado Rivers. I've never had a chance to explore this area and suspect there are some significant sites. :wrt:

    Started the day heading down the I-10 towards Casa Grande searching out the "Snaketown" site near Gila River bridge. From the NPS website;

    "Hohokam Pima National Monument was authorized by Congress on October 21, 1972, to protect an ancient Hohokam village known today as "Snaketown." Excavations in the 1930's and again in the 1960's revealed the site was inhabited from about 300 BC to around 1200 AD and may have had up to 2,000 inhabitants. Following the last excavations, the site was completely recovered with earth, leaving nothing visible above ground. The Monument is located on the Gila River Indian Reservation and is under tribal ownership. The Gila River Indian Community has decided not to open the extremely sensitive area to the public. There is no park brochure, passport stamp, picture stamp or other free literature available. Snaketown was first excavated in 1934 by the Gila Pueblo Foundation, under the direction of Harold S. Gladwin. Between 1964-1965, a second excavation was led by Emil Haury. The two expeditions discovered that the site contained more than sixty midden mounds. A central plaza and two ovel shaped fields were surrounded by pit houses, and an elaborate irrigation system fed the nearby fields in which beans, maize and squash were grown."

    My home library has many historical photos from the principal archeologists from the "Snaketown digs" and I recall some of the artifacts are on display at the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. I conduct a drive-by of the Snaketown site bounded by the I-10 on the east, the Gila River on the south, Maricopa Road on the west and Riggs Road on the north. The site is completely buried, unkown, and returned to nature. Check out the 2009 video archive posted by University of Arizona commemorating the excavation's 75th anniversary =>

    I now head towards the village of Maricopa and Hwy 238 in search of the Patio Area Petroglyph Site => A chance to explore before a squall line comes in from the south bringing some serious rain. Time to head out.

    A stop at the Shawmutt Trainspotting Loop yields some interesting clouds. The dogs are appreciative of the chance to stretch their legs after that bumpy escape along the 4x4 tracks from the Patio Area.

    Next up is the Gatlin Site. A sad, lonely spot after the acrimonious divorce between the Town of Gila Bend and the Arizona Archeological Society.

    A stop in Gila Bend to pick up some 'burgs and we make the trek out to the Painted Rocks Petroglyph Site to enjoy lunch in the pouring rain!

    Sears Point and Antelope Hill (was also going to check the nearby Texas Hill rock art site, but had enough rain for one day) are up next before the stretch run home to catch the 2nd half and OT of the Cards game...

    Permit $$
    Special Use

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To hike
    From Hwy 238 between Maricopa and Gila Bend, head north on the 4x4 track at the intersection with Rio Bravo Road. Alternately, from Hwy 238 turn north onto the 4x4 track at the intersection with N. Rahma Street (by the Muslim Cemetery) and join onto Gasline Road heading towards Montezuma Head at the southern tip of the Sierra Estrella Mountains.

    CAUTION - strictly 4x4 with many deep "sand traps" along the way!
    page created by Randal_Schulhauser on Dec 18 2011 7:03 pm
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