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Trip Planning

Great Places to See Petroglyphs

Jeff Crider shares great places in the USA to see Native American petroglyphs.

Petroglyphs, the images of people, animals and geometric shapes that Native Americans etched into caves and rock walls hundreds and even thousands of years ago, are visible in many areas across North America, particularly in the Southwest.

Most petroglyphs are located in national, state or local parks and preserves that are dedicated to protecting these historic images so that they can be studied and enjoyed by current and future generations.

The greatest concentrations of petroglyphs are found in the Southwest, usually in canyons and mountain areas that are easily accessible to RVers.

Below are several of the most popular petroglyph destinations in the Southwest along with links to helpful trail descriptions and nearby campgrounds:


Arizona has several parks and preserves that feature petroglyphs. In the greater Phoenix area, these include:

Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve: While there are numerous parks and other locations with Native American petroglyphs in Arizona, this one is noteworthy for its easy access in the Phoenix area. The preserve features a self-guided quarter-mile nature trail with petroglyphs, native desert plants, and animals in their natural habitat.

South Mountain Park and Preserve: This preserve features two trails. The Holbert Trail is considered the best South Mountain trail for petroglyph sightings. The Holbert Trail also connects hikers to Dobbins Lookout, a popular spot for panoramic views of Phoenix, although it is considered a challenging trail. The Hidden Valley Trail via the Mormon Trail offers easy-to-spot petroglyphs, panoramic views of Phoenix and a natural rock tunnel.

The Hieghroglyphic Trail in the Superstition Mountains: This popular trailhead is about an hour’s drive east of Phoenix. Locals recommend doing this hike during the week because of crowding on the weekends.

Nearby base campgrounds include Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort in El Mirage, Desert's Edge RV Park in Phoenix, Pleasant Harbor RV Resort in Peoria, and Gold Canyon RV Resort in Gold Canyon.

In the greater Tucson area, petroglyphs can be found at Picacho Peak State Park, roughly an hour north of Tucson. A steep and adventurous trail leads to Picacho Peak and various trails lead to petroglyphs in the park. Nearby campgrounds include Picacho Peak RV Resort in Picacho.

Just west of Tucson is Saguaro National Park, which features the Signal Hill Petroglyph Site. The site contains over 200 prehistoric Native American petroglyphs, many of which can be viewed from the visitor trail that ascends the hill. It is believed these petroglyphs were created between 550 and 1550 years ago.

In northeast Arizona, petroglyphs can be seen in Petroglyph Canyon in Petrified Forest National Park. Nearby campgrounds include the Holbrook / Petrified Forest KOA Journeyand the OK RV Park, both in Holbrook. 


Valley of Fire State Park features several trails that lead to petroglyphs that are believed to be more than 2,000 years old.


Nine Mile Canyon: Located a few miles from Price in central Utah, this canyon features over 10,000 petroglyphs created by the Fremont and Ute Indians. Nearby campgrounds include Nine Mile Ranch, which is inside the canyon, and Castle Gate RV Park in Helper.

Newspaper Rock at Bears Ears National Monument: Newspaper Rock is located in a canyon that features hundreds of petroglyphs.  Nearby campgrounds include Blue Mountain RV and Trading and Blanding RV Park, both in Blanding.


Colorado has several national monuments and parks that feature petroglyphs. These include:

Dinosaur National Monument in northwest Colorado. This park features both petroglyphs and pictographs, the latter of which are ancient Native American paintings rather than etchings in stone.

Nearby campgrounds include Vernal / Dinosaurland KOA Holiday and Fossil Valley RV Park, both in Vernal, Utah.

There are three major parks in southwest Colorado that feature petroglyphs and other attractions of archaeological significance. These include:

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwest Colorado. This monument features the highest concentration of Native American archaeological sites in the U.S. — more than 6,300 of them, including cliff dwellings, kivas, petroglyphs, and sacred springs. Canyons of the Ancients Visit Center and Museum features exhibitions of Ancestral Puebloan or Anasazi and other Native cultures of the Four Corners region as well as two 12th-century archaeological sites.

Ute Mountain Tribal Park in southwest Colorado. This park features numerous archaeological sites with cliff dwellings, pictographs and petroglyphs. Visitors are allowed access only when accompanied by tribal guides. Half-day, full-day, and private tours are available.

Mesa Verde National Park: While well known for its beautiful cliff dwellings, this park is also home to the Petroglyph Point Trail, which passes a large rock with petroglyphs.  

Nearby campgrounds include Sundance RV Park in Cortez and Dolores River RV Resort and The Views RV Park & Campground, both in Dolores.

New Mexico

Petroglyph National Monument is just outside Albuquerque and is believed to contain more than 25,000 petroglyphs. Several trails inside the monument provide access to some of the petroglyphs in their natural surroundings. Nearby campgrounds include Albuquerque KOA Journey and American RV Resort, both in Albuquerque, and Turquoise Trail Campground in Cedar Crest.

Another great place to see petroglyphs is El Morro National Monument, roughly two hours west of Albuquerque. A focal point of the monument is Inscription Rock, where travelers can see Native American petroglyphs as well as etchings by some of the first European explorers in North America, including the brutal Spanish conquistador, Don Juan de Oñate, who etched his name in the sandstone rock in 1605, 15 years before the arrival of the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. Nearby campgrounds include Grants KOA Journey in Grants.

Jeff Crider


Jeff Crider, President and CEO of Crider Public Relations, has been involved in covering the campground industry for over 25 years. Jeff has worked as a freelance writer for publications such as RV Business, Motor Home Magazine, Trailer Life, Highways and other Affinity Group Inc. publications since 1995. He has also successfully pitched many of the nation's top tier media outlets, including CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Financial Times, Reuters, The Associated Press and National Public Radio. In addition to writing, Jeff is also a talented photographer and humanitarian.