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Perry Tank Canyon Ruins, AZ

no permit
299 26 2
Guide 26 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > Cordes
3.4 of 5 by 8
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,857 feet
Elevation Gain -500 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.5
Interest Ruins
Backpack TBD
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
20  2016-03-06
Rattlesnake - Perry Tank Canyon Ruin Loop
17  2016-03-06
Rattlesnake - Perry Tank Canyon Ruin Loop
55  2016-03-06
Rattlesnake - Perry Tank Canyon Ruin Loop
18  2016-01-24
Tangle Creek Day 2 2016
1  2015-04-24 Craigbhikin
15  2014-04-06
Agua Fria River via Badger
11  2012-12-01 GrottoGirl
7  2012-06-09 Hansenaz
Page 1,  2,  3
Author Randal_Schulhauser
author avatar Guides 71
Routes 98
Photos 9,967
Trips 1,009 map ( 9,248 miles )
Age 59 Male Gender
Location Ahwatukee, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Apr, Oct → 7 AM
Seasons   TBD to TBD
Sun  6:16am - 6:25pm
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

From the windmill trail head on FR481, head due west about half a mile until you reach the hill top. The trail will only appear as a faint cow path. Elevation gain is only about 250 feet. From the hill top are views of Perry Mesa and the grassy plains. The Bradshaw Mountains dominate the view to the west. We were fortunate to observe a herd of antelope just to the north from our vantage point. On a heading of 241 degrees (or West-SouthWest heading) from the hill top, hike about 2 miles until you reach the rim of Perry Tank Canyon. Again, the trail will only appear as a faint cow path. You will pass under some high voltage transmission lines about 1/4 mile before reaching the rim. The ruins will become obvious near the rim, appearing only as stone rubble walls. They are extremely weathered and in relatively poor shape. The compound has multiple pueblos, the largest consisting of 50 plus rooms. The Perry Mesa settlements were occupied primarily during the fourteenth century. This places the age of the ruins comparable to those found in the Cherry Creek region. The contrast between the state of the ruins is startling!

For me, the main attraction of the site is the plethora of petroglyphs. Clusters of petroglyphs are located about 50 feet down from the rim on the west side and east side of the main ruins. The approach from the east side makes for easier access. One of the more noteworthy rock art symbols is that of a duck. The duck appears along with two deer and a human form on a rock face just below the east approach.

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2004-09-07 Randal_Schulhauser
    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
    Perry Tank Canyon Ruins
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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
    Perry Tank Canyon Ruins
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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
    Perry Tank Canyon Ruins
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I stopped in on my walk back from the Big Deer Petroglyph site. Two reasons for my 4th (!) visit: 1) I noticed a 3rd cluster of ruins on the satellite picture that I hadn't been to and 2) I still hadn't found the famous duck petroglyph and I was feeling lucky.

    This 3rd ruin, a few hundred yards further away from the cliff edge than the other two seems to be slightly less collapsed with a little bit of building workmanship there to be seen. And I continued below the rim and did find the duck glyph!...a successful day.
    Perry Tank Canyon Ruins
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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.
    Perry Tank Canyon Ruins
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    I figured it was too warm for hiking so I thought I'd take the back roads to get close to this site and then just poke around for fun. Compared to my previous trip I noticed more flaked stone edges and found a few more petroglyphs.

    Again I walked the south edge of the spur canyon north of this site but didn't find anything more than a few pieces of pottery (which you can also find out in the middle of the's everywhere). It was about 8deg cooler on Perry Mesa than in Phoenix...

    I add this postscript a few days later: scratching about 10 (likely) chigger bites along my sock line....I don't see any other reference to chigger bites on HAZ...perhaps others blame similar on poison ivy?
    Perry Tank Canyon Ruins
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    I ran into a few problems finding this place, so here's what I learned. The Forest Road designations are obsolete, replaced with (impossible to remember) 4 digit descriptions. 11 miles from I-17 turn right at the roadside "kiosk" for the National Monument. Continue on that dirt road (high clearance recommended) for about a mile through the corral and two cattle grates, and then continue another ca. 0.4 mi until there is a road to the right. It's another 2mi to the windmill. It is recommended to park at the windmill and walk (though the road continues further). Walking from the windmill, I headed along the continuing road for a few hundred yards before angling right to crest the ridge/mesa top. Once I c rested and could see ahead, I took a WSW bearing which pointed me toward the distant Bradshaw Range Hill with the Rhyolite band near the top. Walking that direction across the open mesa, eventually I saw paired High Voltage towers in the distance. It turns out the ones on a line with the banded hill are NOT the right want the pair to the right, the last pair before the gorge (though you don't know that til you get closer). I didn't see any numbers on the towers.

    In reality I didn't find the right road to the windmill but instead took a different road which went right just after the corral but before the cattle grates. This is not a good road and I ended up parking a mile short of the windmill. My posted distance reflects the longer approach and some wandering around the ruins. The GPS route I post reflects my windmill to ruin route...if you bear toward the correct towers you can get there more directly.

    The other triplogs are correct in that the ruin walls are crumbled and overgrown with vegetation and the petroglyphs are the highlight. I ran into a couple there who were quite knowledgeable about the ruin and glyphs having been there several times before (BTW they got there via ATV). They were curious about how I got the information to find the place and were initially guarded, but they did give me a few tips on where to look for petroglyphs.

    I'm sure I only saw a small fraction (just judging by photos posted on HAZ) but what I saw was impressive. I made a half-hearted effort to find the supernova glyph but I had little time and had to get back.
    Perry Tank Canyon Ruins
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    Another dawn to dusk reconnaissance mission searching for Perry Mesa�s Ancient �Seven Cities� � this time out with GPSJoe and Grasshopper. Breakfast at Rock Springs Caf� and dinner at the Bad Ass BBQ. :) :) :)

    You are looking for APS tower 219 and a very faint trail that will lead you to the ruins

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    Map Drive

    To hike
    From Phoenix heading north on I-17, exit east on Bloody Basin Road (FR269) about 3 miles south of Cordes Junction. Follow FR269 for about 11 miles until you reach FR14. Drive south on FR14 about 1 1/4 miles until you reach FR481. This intersection is located just after passing through a corral and two cattle gates. Travel about 2 miles on FR481 until you reach a windmill. Depending on your vehicle, you may want to use the windmill to mark your trail head.

    2009-04-24 hhwolf14 writes: The right turn from FR14 is now marked FR25 (FR481 is the marker on the left turn- do not go this direction).
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