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Well-Managed Rock Art Sites on Public Lands

The sites which follow are a small list.  There are also others which are well managed, and we hope to be adding more as management methods improve and funding is found to support public visits. 

Alberta, Canada

Writing on Stone, Alberta: One of the largest collections of rock art in North America.  Available only on guided tours.  The trail is beautifully landscaped with several small wooden amphitheaters, so visitors  are comfortable listening to guides and to each other discussing the rock art images.  There is one panel on a self-guided trail with a wire protective screen which has large brown square mesh (for less visual interference) and has openings intended for cameras.  Friendly presentation, yet well protected, made possible by visitor center, permanent staff, and assistants.


Deer Valley Rock Art Center: Visitor center, self-guided trail with labels and benches to rest.  In northern outskirts of Phoenix.

The V-Bar-B Ranch Petroglyph Site: This is the largest known petroglyph site in the Verde Valley, Arizona, as well as being one of the best-preserved. Acquired by the Coconino National Forest in 1994, the site has recently been opened for general public visitation. This website is intended to provide the potential visitor with background information about the site and its rock art.  [Informal visitor Center, but no fulltime resident(?)  Open only certain days.  As of 2005 (?) a fence intended to protect the rock art from cattle rubbing against it has allowed trees to grow close to the rock, which creates a fire danger to the rock art, as well as obscuring the view of visitors and causing lichen and moss to grow over them.  Should this site be removed from a “best sites” list until these failures are remedied?]

Canyon de Chelly: Visitor Center.  Visits only in the company of Navajo guides.  Sites on private land are not normally visited, except with prior arrangement with landowners.  The experience is not primarily for rock art, but that is an incidental addition to the experience.


Little Petroglyph Canyon China Lake, Naval Air Weapons Testing Station, Ridgecrest: The Maturango Museum guides provide public access to this treasure of rock art. Some of these petroglyphs have been dated to 16,000 years before present. We take you to "Little Petroglyph Canyon," the best of all of the many canyons on the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station land. There are over 6000 petroglyphs to be seen in a canyon a mile long. Info at the Maturango Museum web site. Click on "Petroglyph Trips".

Painted Rock: Carrizo Plain National Monument: This is a Chumash Indian rock art site, on BLM land. The site has been badly vandalized since the early 1920's, but is now actively protected and is closely monitored by members of the Southern Sierra Archaeological Society. Short hike required. Carrizo Painted Rock is located off Soda Lake Rd south of California Valley at Hwy 58. A sign marks the turn-off. Note that the site area is closed during raptor nesting season. Call the Goodwin Educational Center, at the site, for information, 805-475-2131.  [What are the management pluses which would justify putting this site into a ‘best” list?]


Ute Mountain Tribal Park: Visits only in the company of a Ute guide.


Sanilac Petroglyph Site

Jeffers Petroglyphs: This site has numerous petroglyphs on Sioux quartz. The rock forms a ridge which runs from near New Ulm, in Brown County to near Pipestone. Periodically more dirt and vegetation are removed exposing more rock surface and revealing more petroglyphs. The petroglyphs range from individual symbols to scenes of events. However, watch out for the small prickly pear cactus.

New Mexico

Petroglyph National Monument: In June of 1990, the National Park Service Established Petroglyph National Monument for the preservation of cultural and national resources. Over seventy-one hundred acres in size, the Monument extends from Piedras Marcadas Canyon in the north to Mesa Prieta in the south; and from the volcanoes in the west to the escarpment edge in the east. The Monument area protects one of the most impressive collections of Indian and Hispanic rock art in the world. In addition, more than 100 archeological sites and a variety of volcanic features and associated wildlife habitats are protected, all within the Albuquerque city limits.  Visitor Center.
Three Rivers Petroglyph Site: The BLM manages this vast site with over 20,000 petroglyphs across 50 acres.


Inscription Rock Site  

Leo Petroglyph Site


Hueco Tanks: Unusual and beautiful rock formations with unusually elaborate and well-executed pictographs on them.  Docents conduct a rotating schedule of walking trips to see different areas of the rock art.  Management has succeeded in a very careful balancing of different uses, with accessibility on various staggered levels, from the merely curious visitor to the professional researcher and Native American visitors.

Seminole Canyon State Park & Historic Site



Horsethief Lake State Park: The park contains "salvage" boulders with rock art that were removed during dam construction along the Columbia River. These boulders can be seen any time the park is open. There is also a trail to sites that are original to the park. Access to these sites are on a reservation basis and require a guide.

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