Wednesday, November 29, 2023


See prehistoric graffiti at Painted Rock Petroglyph Site

By Bob Difley
Like most historic or recreation sites managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), they don’t get a lot of publicity and even less advertising. So you may zip on by such a location and not even know it exists, or that you’ve passed within a stone’s throw from it.

Painted Rock Petroglyph Site and Campground, about 90 miles southwest of Phoenix, is typical. The only clue you get while barreling down the Interstate 8 freeway is the name given to Exit 102 — Painted Rock Dam Road —12.5 miles west of Gila Bend.

If you are curious enough to take the exit looking for the “Painted Rock” you will have to follow Painted Rock Dam Road for 10.7 miles (thankfully it is now paved), then 0.6 miles (unpaved) due west on Rocky Point Road. It may come as somewhat of a surprise when you arrive to find picnic tables, barbecue grills, fire rings, toilets, and a primitive campground.

Sorry, no hookups, no drinking water, and no dump station (which keeps about 90% of the RVers from spending the night), but you will find a helpful and informative host from October through April. There is a day use charge of $2 and camping is $8 — but don’t go telling everybody. Right now it is a nice, isolated campground, far enough off the Interstate you won’t hear any traffic even in the blissfully quiet desert nights.

However, this archeological site exists not because of the campground, but because of the hundreds — yes, hundreds — of petroglyphs carved into the rocks by prehistoric Native Americans. You will also find inscriptions from the beginning of Arizona history made by members of Juan Bautista de Anza’s expedition that founded San Francisco, the Mormon Battalion when they passed through on their way to Utah, and the Butterfield Overland Mail — one of the first mail delivery services to the Wild West.

In the spring, the wildflower bloom can be spectacular. Winter temperatures are typical of the Sonora desert, with near freezing on the coldest nights and rising to 80 degrees on the warmest days. Boondockers carrying plenty of water and arriving with empty holding tanks will find this a quite comfortable and quiet stopover or getaway from the crowded snowbird locations around Phoenix.

Click here for more information from the BLM.

You can find Bob Difley’s e-books on Amazon Kindle.

Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

BruceinAZ (@guest_37068)
4 years ago

So why is it that modern graffiti is abhorrent but when folks in the past defaced nature and the landscape it was wonderful and so informative? Personally I think it’s bad whether it’s new or old and should have been just as illegal then as it is now. I guess this is how the native Americans took care of the land as we’re always being told. I’ve seen firsthand how they live now and it was not likely much different hundreds or thousands of years ago.

Chuck Woodbury (@guest_37087)
4 years ago
Reply to  BruceinAZ

Bruce, the Native Americans didn’t have paper and pens, typewriters or other ways to communicate. This is how they told their stories. How can you even begin to compare that to today’s graffiti?

BruceinAZ (@guest_37128)
4 years ago
Reply to  Chuck Woodbury

Chuck…..I totally disagree, as they both deface the beauty God created just like tattoos do. There are those that think modern graffiti is beautiful and informative and I disagree with them as well.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.