Magazine article Sunset

Phoenix: A Place Where the Rocks Do the Talking

Magazine article Sunset

Phoenix: A Place Where the Rocks Do the Talking

Article excerpt

Just beyond the northern ledge of Phoenix is a place where hawks soar, cactus wrens sing, whiptail lizards stalk, and the rocks speak.

Deer Valley Rock Art Center, which opened last year, is a 47-acre preserve of more than 1,500 petroglyphs on the boulders of a huge volcanic rockpile called Hedgpeth Hills. The site, operated by Arizona State University's Department of Anthropology, shows evidence of the human hand going back as far as 7,000 years. Little is known about what the etched figures mean, except that they record an ancient thread of habitation in the Valley of the Sun.

The center blends preservation and research with a strong message of respect for native cultures. Fans of Southwest architect Will Bruder will appreciate the understated visitor center, whose design echoes the dark volcanic rock site. The exhibits inside the center are beautifully presented, offering a thorough overview of rock art in the Southwest.

But the best part of the art center is along the 1/4-mile packed-dirt trail that winds through natural Sonoran Desert habitat along the base of the hills. …

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