Friday, March 30, 2012

Saturday Snapshot Visits the Deer Valley Rock Art Center

Saturday Snapshot is a weekly meme hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. To participate, post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

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When you first see the Deer Valley Rock Art Center, it doesn't look very prepossessing. Local architect Will Bruder purposely designed it to blend into its landscape.

Deer Valley Rock Art Center Entrance

The Deer Valley Rock Art Center is a Phoenix Point of Pride, managed by the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. Its mission is to preserve and provide basic public access to the Hedgepeth Hills petroglyph site. With over 1500 petroglyphs, it's the largest collection in the Phoenix area. Not only is it a museum and a repository for the American Rock Art Research Association library, the "DVRAC" is also a wildlife preserve.

Denis and I visited at high noon, which isn't the best time of day to view petroglyphs-- especially when you're talking about sunlight as strong as it is here in the desert-- but we were eager to experience as much of it as possible.

We almost galloped through the interior....

A few of the exhibits at the DVRAC.

On the outside once again, we started out on the easy quarter-mile trail that led past the Neil Nelson Heritage Memorial Garden which showcases crops that Native Americans may have planted in this area hundreds (even thousands) of years ago, and a cactus garden and agave roasting pit.  Here's what we were eager to see....

Denis photographing a big pile of rocks.
Wow... we wanted to see a big pile of rocks! Exciting, huh? Actually, yes-- that big pile of rocks is pretty darned exciting. Back several millennia, molten rock bubbled up through fissures in the earth, When it cooled, it fractured into thousands of pieces of basalt. Native Americans, like the Hohokam who lived here in the Phoenix area, loved basalt. They used it to make grinding tools for their grain, and the "taggers" of the day discovered that if they pecked away at the dark varnish, it left much lighter marks just below the surface. Lo and behold-- artists were born!

A few of the over 1500 petroglyphs at the DVRAC.

As I mentioned before, high noon is not the optimal time to see or photograph petroglyphs, but Denis and I both discovered that, the longer we stood there, the more we saw. Our eyes had to get accustomed to the rocks and the sun. We definitely intend to go back at varying times of day!


Chuckwallah: If I can't see you, you do not exist!

You'd never dream you were in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States while you're walking along the trail at the DVRAC. The peace, the quiet, and the abundant wildlife tell you that you're out on the desert somewhere far, far away from urban sprawl. That immense pile of basalt was teeming with all sorts of squirrels, a male Gambel's Quail called for his mate (expertly keeping tall grass and tree branches between him and my camera), and a chuckwallah sunned itself on a rock as if we weren't even there.


Squirrel checking out the ancient grinding stones.

Denis and I loved how the place teemed with life-- lizards, quail, squirrels, hummingbirds zipping back and forth... these are only a few of the critters we saw while we were there. All too soon, it was time to head back through the museum and head for the parking lot.

Leaving the Deer Valley Rock Art Center.

Denis and I appreciated the shade for a few moments before leaving, that's for certain. If you're ever in the Phoenix area, this is one place you should definitely visit!


48 comments:

  1. What a fascinating place, I would so love to spend a day roaming about such an interesting exhibit. You've gotta respect a place that has its own on-site dinosaurs! [5th photo].
    Great shots.
    Every winter my sister and her husband spend a month in Arizona and they invited me to join them next time around. I think they stay in the Phoenix area. I've always wanted to go, but now I want to go even more-er!

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    1. Come on down! (Oops, that sounded a bit "game show", didn't it?)

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  2. Wow, what an amazing place. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  3. I love the little tour you took us on and will put this spot on my list of things to do the next time we are in Phoenix. Thanks for sharing it. We visited the Desert Botanical Gardens on this visit. Probably not quite as lovely as they are now or will be soon, but pretty nonetheless.

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    1. Kay, you've just reminded me that Denis and I have to get to the DBG to visit the Butterfly Pavilion before it disappears!

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  4. Looks like a great place to visit. How cool to see the petroglyphs!

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    1. Denis and I have seen petroglyphs up in the White Mountains, too, but it's a hike and a climb to get to them. There's something about seeing them that's so special.

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  5. Very cool! I like how they built the museum into the hill like that, so as not to disturb the landscape.

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    1. I agree, Trish. I was very impressed with the building.

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  6. I loved the visit to a place like this which I am sure I'll never visit. Great job.

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  7. It certainly does blend into the landscape! I definitely need to take my kids there.

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    1. It's definitely worth checking their website ahead of time because they have all sorts of activities for kids, Lisa!

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  8. those petroglyphs are fabulous! Thanks for the armchair travel as I know I'll never get there in person.

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    1. As a fellow armchair traveler, I'm glad I could be of service!

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  9. Cathy - I just love those 'photos!!! I think the chuckwalla is the one I like the best. Just so much a natural part of the landscape. How really, really cool! You've made me want to visit...

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    1. Denis and I would love to show you around the place, Margot!

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  10. That is so cool!!! I love the petroglyphs. We have a site in the northern part of our county. My husband and I visited it last summer and we're glad that we did!!

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    1. Staci, it's always good to visit those places close to home-- it's so easy to forget about them!

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  11. Whew, that lizard's scary! He looks like he'd turn around and freeze you into stone with his gaze...

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    1. That's one of the largest lizards I've seen in the wild, but it was so busy ignoring us that I wasn't bothered at all.

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  12. Loved the tour! Just think ... someone long long ago worked that stone! Amazing! And very special!

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    1. I would love to eavesdrop on them as they chipped away at the stone!

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  13. Oh, I do enjoy good desert shots...rock gardens, cactus, and even the lizards! Thanks for sharing.

    Here's MY SATURDAY SNAPSHOT

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  14. Fascinating photos, would luv to visit. Never heard of a chuckwallah.

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    1. It's the first time I'd seen one! :-)

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  15. Such an interesting place! I must say it does look like it was hot when you were there.:) I would have been running back to the shade. It does amaze me to see animals that can thrive in such a hostile looking environment.
    *smiles*

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    1. I love this desert-- and I have a healthy respect for it. The type of desert that scares me silly is the all-sand-and-nothing-else. *shudder* There's plenty of "something else" here in the Sonoran Desert.

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  16. What a cool place to visit!! The history is sooo interesting!

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    1. This place is right next to a large housing development, a freeway, and a dam. I'm astounded that it survived at all!

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  17. I love the way he designed that to blend it. It looks like a fabulous place to visit.

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  18. That looks like a fantastic experience! I've only seen petroglyphs one other time and that was on the big island in Hawaii. It looks like it would be a fun place to visit.

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    1. Denis and I definitely intend to go back!

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  19. You have so much cool stuff out in the desert. A pile of rocks is always way more than just a pile of rocks for me! Thanks for the tour.

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    1. It's always nice to know that someone else gets enjoyment from a pile of rocks besides Denis and me! LOL

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  20. What an interesting place to visit. It'll definitely be on my list if I ever get to your area. I've seen petroglyphs in other places and they are very interesting.

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  21. That looks like a very interesting tour! I've never been to the desert so it's all fascinating. And hot! Thanks for all the great info and I hope you had fun. :)

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    1. We had a blast-- and it wasn't hot... only in the low 80s. Early spring here in the desert! ;-)

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  22. This looks like a really special place. I have to plan more visits out west to pass hours exploring spots just like this. Here's Mine

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    1. It certainly would be a good place to visit if you do get a chance to come out West.

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  23. I'm amazed that I haven't come across info about DVRAC in preparing for our Spring in Scottsdale trips. Really enjoyed your pix and comments particularly about the pile of rocks!

    :)

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    1. I don't know how you prepare for your trips, but if you center a search around Scottsdale, the DVRAC won't be coming up, since it's on the opposite side of the Valley.

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  24. Gorgeous photographs! Awesome place!

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