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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Red Tank Draw Petroglyph Site

In the Verde Valley as in much of the southwest there are many archaeological sites from past Native American cultures.  One of these spots that is not well known in the Verde Valley is a petroglyph site in a place called Red Tank Draw.  The Verde Valley has an abundance of archaeological sites and some are well known and developed, like Montezuma's Castle National Monument but many are not and this is one of the best that is not well known.  Red Tank Draw is a small canyon that has a small intermittent stream that only flows for part of the year.
Along the stream are some canyon walls made of Coconino Sandstone, that rise up to forty to fifty feet. Along these walls are some very fine examples of Native American rock art, called petroglyphs.
Petroglyphs are drawings that have been chipped or chiseled into the rock surface. These petroglyphs were made by the Southern Sinagua culture between A.D. 1150 and 1400 and is in the style that archaeologist call the Beaver Creek style.  Here at this site are a wide range of drawings ranging from what appears to be people, elk, deer, antelope, lizards, to crosses, spirals, and other symbols 
I really have no idea about the meaning or reason the the artists from this past culture had for these drawings. I'm sure some archaeologist has come up with a theory, or speculation but we can never be sure. This one of what appears to be an elk is just amazing.
Here is a panel with a whole heard of deer or elk, a hunters dream come true. 
This one is of some deer or elk mating, something I have never seen at any other rock art sites, but I'm sure there could be.
Here are some pictures of what appear to be small lizards that have been carved into the rock.
In this one location of the canyon the display is really fantastic. I have also seen some more isolated examples in other locations along the draw.
Apparently there are some more on some boulders where the main road from the highway crosses Red Tank Draw as it heads toward Wet Beaver Creek.
So here is how to get there.
This route requires high clearance vehicle. A passenger car will simply not make it, so do not even try. Drive south from Flagstaff on I-17 about 45 miles to the AZ Highway 179 exit (exit # 289). Leave the freeway here and drive 1.3 miles east on Forest Road 618 until you see the first forest road turn off to the north or left(a four way stop). This road will take you around a large hill. Look for FR 645A on the right and take it down to the edge of the Draw. Right as you approach the edge the road will turn left and head down into a low spot where you can access the Draw or wash. If you park on the rim where the road turns you just walk south a short distance along the rim and there is a steep trail that takes you off the rim and down into the canyon or draw where the petroglyphs are. Some people drive down into the wash (very rocky) and then walk about 100 yards south down the wash to get to the same place.

All archaeological and historic sites on the Coconino National Forest are protected by the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. These laws prohibit digging, removing artifacts, damage and defacement of archaeological resources on public lands, and provide felony and/or misdemeanor prosecution with imprisonment up to ten years and fines up to $100,000.

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