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Rattlesnake - Perry Tank Canyon Ruin Loop, AZ

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Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > Cordes
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HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Loop 5.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,699 feet
Elevation Gain 750 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.25
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Ruins, Historic & Seasonal Creek
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
15  2018-03-14 Steph_and_Blake
25  2018-01-06 eagleloc
29  2017-12-02 eagleloc
20  2016-03-06 trekkin_gecko
17  2016-03-06 johnlp
16  2016-03-06 Hansenaz
55  2016-03-06 tibber
17  2015-03-26 Hansenaz
Page 1,  2
Author Hansenaz
author avatar Guides 4
Routes 151
Photos 6,020
Trips 357 map ( 2,615 miles )
Age 66 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Feb
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:32pm
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Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Grinders on the side
by Hansenaz

Perry Mesa is located in Agua Fria National Monument and is chock full of history. Main access to the area is via the Bloody Basin Rd. off I-17 and from there a series of dirt roads provide access for ranchers and the public.

A number of hike descriptions have been posted giving details on how to find interesting ancient pueblan sites in this area. Most are in poor condition, but often they have excellent petroglyph displays: these include Pueblo La Plata Ruins, Perry Tank Canyon Ruins, and Squaw Creek Ruins.

The area has of course been extensively studied by academics through the years and it's well known that across Perry Tank Canyon from The Perry Tank Canyon Ruin (aka Pueblo Pato) is another ancient settlement called Rattlesnake Ruin. This consists of several large groupings numbering over 100 rooms. It is thought that the two settlements were related and apparently a path exists between them.

From Pueblo Pato it's hard to see how this would work because the gorge is steep and looks pretty deep but the map shows that just a mile or two further upstream the canyon disappears and its easy to get to the other side. The Perry Windmill is located at the head of the canyon. Accessible by one of those primitive dirt roads and a high clearance vehicle, it serves as the starting point for this loop hike.

There is no trail for this loop and the traveling is mainly through knee-high grass with cactuses and rocks. Pretty much everything will stick you and the chiggers will bite so plan accordingly. From the Perry windmill (note this is not the first windmill you pass on the's a couple miles further) contour along the southwest side of the deepening canyon. I thought the ruins would be along the edge with petroglyphs below. I soon came across a nice panel of glyphs and signs of previous study (blue tape and white flags). Interestingly I didn't see anything nearby I could recognize as walls or ruins. What did stand out was the high number of metate-like grooves in the larger rocks. I saw more than 20 all together. There was apparently a lot of grinding going on along the side of this canyon 700 years ago. This first area had very little pottery debris but further along there was more pottery and more of these "metates"...but again no ruins. There are so many signs of habitation in this area that different things will be noticed on every visit.

After a while it's time to head down into the canyon. I don't know where I would have normally chosen to descend but on this day there was a clear track trampled in the grass and I followed it. This led to a great area in the bottom with a large ruin, petroglyphs, and green pools of water. The water would have been the main attraction here for the former residents. From here it may be best to pick your way up the other side of the canyon but I continued down the canyon another half-mile or so, finding a few tiny pools but not much else.

Once on the northeast side of the canyon head toward the high voltage towers to the northwest, the ones perched on the edge. Signs of habitation may be thing I was curious about was the large number of big flattish volcanic rocks with smaller rocks piled on them. At the towers continue another quarter mile west to the Perry Tank Canyon Ruins. There is a small sign and a large area of overgrown ruin walls. Pottery sherds and flaked quartz and obsidian are everywhere. The excellent petroglyphs (much more vivid than at Rattlesnake) are mainly below the rim.

When you've had your fill strike-off back toward your vehicle to complete the loop. You can stay close to the north side of the canyon (and probably stumble on more interesting stuff) or head due east to intersect a dirt road which will take you back with easier walking.

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2012-05-13 Hansenaz
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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
Rattlesnake - Perry Tank Canyon Ruin Loop
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I'm used to wandering around Perry Mesa by myself, occasionally with my wife, so it was a unique experience to be there with a crowd. But a good crowd it was, including many of my "previously virtual" HAZ friends. We spread out, covered a lot of ground, and found plenty of interesting things to look at. For me the highlights were some unexpected early finds [ photo ] , [ photo ] , the fantastic glyphs below Pueblo Pato [ photo ] , and the "arrow straightener rock" I walked right by at the ruin [ photo ] .

I note that Kelly's triplog comment the drive seemed to go more quickly on the way back means it's a long drive in. I learned that other people are much better at finding stuff, photographing stuff, and composing triplogs and photosets than me.

But I think we had a lot of fun and it was nice to share the day.
Rattlesnake - Perry Tank Canyon Ruin Loop
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Thanks Steve for putting this together. Thanks Wade for driving me and I was glad I got to enjoy the scenery by not driving. Thanks to Mike and Oli for spotting all sorts of cool stuff and staying behind with me a time or two and being excited for me that I found a somewhat obscure glyph all by myself :) . Mike gets the blue ribbon for the best glyph of the day though!

Now THAT was some rough off trail hiking, like atop Bluff Spring Mountain with the grass that hides the rocks that hides the cactus. And there was never a lasting moment of smooth hiking; quite the workout... kind of like hiking in sand. The day got off to a good start in the scenery department with a look-see at the windmill; it was short and stout and stocky but probably had to be to hold up those gigantic blades that were whirling around pretty fast.

We crossed to the southside of Perry Tank canyon and started heading west, no one sure of where we were going; well except Steve ;) . All we knew is that we were making a loop around part of this canyon/dry creek and would stop to visit some ruins and glyphs. I think it turned out much better than I imagined because we saw much more of what I expected with the first being an awesome glyph across the canyon that Mike found and most of us had to backtrack to see. And then back on our way until we got close to another rock cropping which had lots of glyphs and some metates scattered about as well.

Mike and Oli were like kids in a candy store as they went up, down, thru and around this area. Actually it was somewhat like hiking with a married couple as Oli would say come over here while Mike was still back investigating and photographing another site and Oli would say but this is better etc. They kept this enthusiasm up the entire time and this is from guys that see glyphs all the time. However, they were quite gracious in sharing their finds with me as I wander around a bit aimlessly. But all of a sudden we were separated from the rest of the group. I saw the rest of the group up on a ridge so started hiking that way, occasionally glancing around to see if there were glyphs on the rocky areas I would cross through.

I eventually caught up to the group as they were making their way to the first set of ruins. Really wasn't a lot there but there were the normal suspects of metates and manos and small rock walls and some glyphs and lots of sherds. The others went down to a lake that I didn't know was there as I arrived late so we then headed back, kind of the way we came but closer to the canyon cliff. I spotted a tank ahead but we would end up hiking past that but not before a stop at a rock outcropping were we saw lots more metates. The cloud cover was more deep now and it was windy and a tad chilly but as we headed back up the canyon and down toward the drainage, the wind seemed less.

We arrived at a pool of water where we had a quick break. I sat across from what I dubbed the glyph diver. There were quite a few glyphs on the wall at the other side of the pool.

Steve too would point out the less obvious where you could see a faint metate or glyph and told us about the agave gardens. Loved the info about the agave gardens that the Hohokam had made between settlements. I read:
The Hohokam moved volcanic rocks ranging in size from cobbles to boulders to the edge of the mesa. They heaped the rocks into piles and then planted agaves among them. No one knows for sure what advantages were to be gained from such techniques. It is suggested that the rock piles may have served to conserve precious moisture around the plants during the hot, dry summers or to provide a source of radiant heat during cold snaps in winter.

We then came upon the largest rooms of ruin that we would see. There were sherds everywhere. I walked all the way around before I realized no one else was really following. So I traced my steps back and saw Kelly on the ledge of the canyon. So I walked where she was at and then saw the others down on some other outcropping. I attempted to get down there but since the route wasn't obvious and others were crossing over below, I decided to give up on that venture.

As I was trying to get down to the area where everyone seemed to be heading I took a header :stretch: while trying to get over a rock and my face slid down a cane cholla cactus. Just not anything you can do when that motion begins. It's funny though as I try to recover from this type of event (2nd in two Sundays), it takes a bit to assess the situation and then arise to address it. In this case, the cholla needles sticking in my face. So I slowly felt around and removed the cholla as best I could and then started to head down to where Kelly was. I told her what happened and I think she pulled out a couple needles and then made me use her alcohol squares to my burning face which of course made it burn even more, ha!

Now Kelly kindly took me back to some glyphs they got to see as they had walked past where I had hiked down to at this point. Well that was a nice reward for my pain. Kelly stayed with me now until I crawled up off the canyon cliff side but not before seeing some more awesome glyphs. She got a great picture of me that I edited and posted up on FB; everybody loved my Vanna impersonation. It was a little tricky on this cliff side but we eventually got up to flat ground.

By this time, everyone realized Wade was MIA. I deduced right away that he had gone back to the jeep but I sent a text in case he had his phone with him. Wade was nursing a blistered foot from his 20 mile hike the past week. We eventually started to head back over this rocky terrain. Soon we would see Wade's jeep about 3/4 mile away. I considered hiking over to the jeep, there's beer, but johnlp said it was further than it looked so I continued with the rest of the gang as we looked for the road veering left, then right, then under a fence until finally we saw the vehicles.

And though the miles were few, the terrain a bit rugged, we got to see so much stuff :y: . Much more than I anticipated; such a rich ruin, metate, petroglyph, scenic environment. Thank you Steve, it was awesome! Good to hike with johnlp, trekkin gecko and Wade and Thx to Kelly for helping me out. Nice to meet the new folks too. I also got a nice education today.

Awh yes, the videos. Well I just finished with Dome Panorama videos so I'm probably a week away from posting videos for this event. 3-16-2016 and here are your videos:
the drive, Perry Tank Creek, the glyphing begins ... qbTM
continuing down canyon, first set of ruins ... v7jo
to the pool, down the creek to the tank ... Qx0Y
from the tank to the main ruins ... F2P4
main ruins and cliffside​ ... YRrI
Rattlesnake - Perry Tank Canyon Ruin Loop
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It's always nice to see a new area and meet new people. And to walk in the company of accomplished finders of all things historical.

Our group of eight flanked out scouring the route for glyphs, ruins, and artifacts while enjoying the uique landscape. We were not disappointed. Wonderful trip.

Thanks Hansenaz for the organizational effort and making the long drive to Perry Mesa. Nice to again see those I know and meeting those I didn't. Great group! :)
Rattlesnake - Perry Tank Canyon Ruin Loop
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first, a tibber style intro:
a month ago, johnlp and i hiked up to perry mesa from the agua fria river
didn't know what to look for in such a vast area, so we didn't explore
we knew that hansenaz has spent a lot of time up there, so we (i) strongly hinted that we would enjoy going up there with him sometime
others chimed in, so steve graciously organized a hike for us
he picked a variation of this loop and we all met up for the long drive to the trailhead via bloody basin road
new country for me, and beautiful wide open spaces in the agua fria national monument
got going mid morning, heading first for perry windmill, then down along rattlesnake canyon
found plenty of petroglyphs, metates, a few manos, pottery sherds, and quartz flakes
arrived at the first set of ruins which were quite overgrown with cactus, agave and catsclaw
wandered down to bob's tank, then went back to the creek, where we had lunch at a pool
dropped down the creek to another pool below deepening canyon walls, then climbed out to the north
headed toward the power lines, eventually finding the other set of ruins, also quite overgrown
nice petroglyphs in this area, too
headed back across the mesa to the vehicles, and had snacks and beverages courtesy of angela
the drive seemed to go more quickly on the way back
enjoyed seeing more of this area, and hiking with some new folks
thanks for the ride in, steve, and for putting this together
a great sample of the area
Rattlesnake - Perry Tank Canyon Ruin Loop
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I took my two boys visiting from their frozen environs up to Perry Mesa to thaw out. We walked (roughly) to PTCR (aka Pueblo Pato) and then over toward Rattlesnake Ruins before looping back.

The trip included some side exploring and we found some habitation and petroglyph sites I hadn't been to before.

A nice day out with plenty to see: the petroglyphs at the main ruin site are the highlight....and the pie in Rock Springs.
Rattlesnake - Perry Tank Canyon Ruin Loop
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Middle Perry Tank Creek
I wanted to have a look at the pools (plainly visible on satellite maps) that sit in the canyon bottom below the large rim-side ruins, Perry Tank Canyon and Rattlesnake, in the middle of Perry Mesa.

I dropped into the canyon just below the main Rattlesnake pool - I had walked down the upper part of the creek to this point a couple weeks ago. As I traveled below this pool the terrain was rocky and there were only a few petroglyphs - a preview that the ancient inhabitants didn't spend a lot of time along this stretch.

A good waypoint for this area is the power line crossing. The first "big" pool is reached just before the lines pass overhead. The canyon takes a left turn here and there is a substantial drop to the pool. Though there is a nice wall next to the pool, I didn't see any petroglyphs.

Continuing under the lines to the next pool the canyon bottom changes dramatically from a jumble of boulders to scoured bedrock. Don't know the geological classification but this is nice red rock with white veins. The 2nd pool (about 500' below the Perry Tank Canyon Ruin) is under another big pour off. This is a pretty wild looking place and petroglyphs are pretty unlikely. I had planned to climb back to the mesa from near here so I didn't try to go to the pool level and it didn't look very easy. There was a fair amount of broken pottery at the top though - possibly tossed from the cliff top high above. I don't think the Perry Mesans bothered with these pools since there were easier-to-reach water sources upstream.

I exited the canyon up an overgrown and rocky break to the Rattlesnake side. I took some time to walk the perimeter of the ruins and found a few glyphs, metates, and grinding slicks. Then I looped back to the car.
Rattlesnake - Perry Tank Canyon Ruin Loop
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Upper Perry Tank Creek
I like to look around on Perry Mesa and I figured this would be an interesting walk.

The Perry Tank Windmill is at the head of this Agua Fria side canyon. The wash "digs" gradually, and within a mile or two is ~500' deep as it drops from the windmill. There are large Perry Mesan ruins on both sides of the canyon and I know from a previous trip (lower in the canyon) that the ancient inhabitants spent time near the "permanent" pools and left petroglyphs and bedrock metates.

Bloody Basin Rd. and the minor Perry Mesa dirt roads have suffered from the recent rains but had mostly dried out. The wash itself was fairly wet making more pools than problems for a walker though in this shallow part of the canyon.

I know from previous visits along the west-side edge that the inhabitants did a lot of grinding (metates galore) and that the petroglyphs there are faded, suggesting (to me anyway) that they are older than many of the other local ones.

As I started down the wash I very soon started to find bedrock metates (mostly ovals, a few circles) and faint glyphs. I passed several pools and in almost every case I found petroglyphs. Some of these were very old - no color at all, just texture. I continued to the main pool, the only one I'd been to before. This is an impressive place with a high walled ruin hidden by trees and a lot of faded glyphs on the rock wall above the brown pool (last time it was green).

I planned to go further but I had seen enough for one day and looped back to the car.
Rattlesnake - Perry Tank Canyon Ruin Loop
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Joes Hill
My plan was to circle around Joes Hill staying mainly on the rim of Perry Mesa and find some seldom visited Indian ruins.

I parked at Perry Mesa Windmill, for details of this approach see the Rattlesnake - Perry Tank Canyon Ruin Loop description. I stayed near the west rim of the deepening Perry Tank Canyon keeping higher than on my previous trip. Doing this I deliberately missed a lot of petroglyphs and bedrock metates - I was anticipating a long day. When I passed the point where I'd previously descended and crossed the canyon I dropped a bit lower and found another fantastic "kitchen" area containing at least 20 worn grooves atop a rock outcrop with petroglyphs on the creek-facing side. The concentration of metates along this side of the canyon is much higher than anywhere else I've seen and the only explanation is that scores of women must have been at work at the same time. Unfortunately the large petroglyph panel is faded and so not impressive.

Continuing along I came to the two main Rattlesnake ruins. These are more impressive in the satellite pictures than when visited - mainly overgrown and few recognizable walls. Plenty of pottery on the ground though and I found one interesting circular piece with a hole in it. When leaving the 2nd ruin I slipped on a loose rock - pretty common on Perry Mesa terrain - but this time I fell awkwardly on to some rocks. Feeling dumb and bruised, I continued on...

I contoured west and then north passing two more small ruins. The ruins are almost always marked by a concentration of sherds, flaked quartz, and rockpiles (collapsed walls). I continued to a nice overlook of Perry Tank Canyon - a circle of rocks was at the overlook.

Next I cut across the flank of Joes Hill heading toward the rim above the Agua Fria River. This is seldom visited (except by cows and pronghorns) but like most of Perry Mesa bits of pottery are scattered almost everywhere. I found another small ruin at the Agua Fria rim and continued south, but the pains from my tumble were starting to get to me.

I decided I needed to head back and the shortest route was right over the top of Joes Hill. Other than being the local high point, Joes Hill is notable as the source of the volcanic rock which covers the area - but there's hardly any reason to walk up it unless its the way home. Between the top and Perry Mesa Windmill I came across another area with a lot of pottery pieces but I didn't see any walls.

I'll have to come back another day to sample the second half of my aborted circumambulation of Joes Hill.
Rattlesnake - Perry Tank Canyon Ruin Loop
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The road gets a little sketchy but its not too rocky and I made it to within a few hundred yards of Perry Windmill in a Subaru. It's a pretty remote area so I was surprised to see a mini-convoy of 5 or 6 heavier duty vehicles farther along the road ahead of me. When I caught up with them later I found it was the Dewey-Humboldt Historical Society out on a monthly exploration.

I had planned to just contour around the south side of the canyon and see what I could find. I was very happy to find many petroglyphs (though mostly faded) and many, many smooth areas in the stone where food was ground in the distant past. I made a couple attempts to find actual ruins but no dice...after getting home and looking at my path on Google Earth it looks like I must have skirted two ruin areas. I should have looked harder.

When I reached a path of disturbed grass I took it down into the canyon and caught up with the Historical Society folks. They must have known where they were going because it was a very nice area at the bottom with pools, many (faded) glyphs, and the most intact ruin I've seen in the area. I continued down the canyon for a while seeing only the occasional petroglyph so I headed up the other side so I could walk over to the Perry Tank Canyon Ruins. Its a pretty easy walk to the power towers and on to the ruins. I've been there a couple times recently so I skipped the excellent petroglyphs below the rim and just poked around the perimeter on top. There's plenty to see but the highlight really is the well preserved petroglyphs below.

I headed cross country toward my car completing the loop. Though 100deg in Phoenix it wasn't too bad on the Mesa...about 8deg cooler. I enjoyed the loop and stumbling across interesting stuff.

Permit $$

Map Drive
High Clearance possible when dry

To hike
From Phoenix heading north on I-17, exit east on Bloody Basin Road (exit 259) about 3 miles south of Cordes Junction. Follow the road east for about 11 miles and turn right at the small kiosk. Drive south for about 1 1/4 miles, passing through two cattle gates and turn right on marked road 1025. The road continues to degrade but is passable with high clearance and in two miles reach the first windmill (New Windmill). This is the normal parking place for the hike to Perry Tank Canyon Ruins, but the road continues, angling to the left. In about two more miles 1025 takes a sharp right and 1026 branches to the left with Perry Windmill in sight. Park anywhere you'd like, the road here is essentially part of the loop.
page created by Hansenaz on May 13 2012 2:05 pm
1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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