Petroglyph Painted Rock Site

26 Feb, 2017; PP Rock BLM Campground, Gila Bend, AZ

A dot on the map, but I've wanted to visit for 3 years

I had read that this site contains over 4,000 petroglyphs created over thousands of years by a succession of native peoples.  Current thinking is that the earliest glyphs (mostly abstract patterns like spirals, ladders, zigzags and grids) were created in the 'Western Archaic Style', 7500BC-1AD; later glyphs (adding animals and people) were most likely created by the Hohokam people in the 'Gila Style', 300BC - 1450AD.

The rocks are just covered in glyphs!

The BLM campground consists of about 70 primitive sites, well spread out into 2 loops (including some group sites).  Each site has a concrete picnic table and iron fire pit.  There are vault toilets.  The per night fee is $8.00 ($4 with the geezer pass).  Cell towers dot a mountain top to the west so coverage and internet was excellent.  The town of Gila Bend is about 20 miles away.

Older spiral petroglyph with temporary orange tag from the Archeology Survey

Combination of older 'grids' and snakes with newer animal glyphs

The camp host said that the campground can get pretty crowded on weekends, but I think this weekend, it was only about 1/2 full.  Surprisingly, there were THREE Escapes (including me) - all 19's!  One couple we met at the Quartzite Fiberglass Rally, the other couple traveling from Maine along with a friend (she has a tricked-out Roadtrek 190).

Sharing a campfire and sunset with Escape Owners from Maine

The petroglyphs are largely situated on a sizable rock mound surrounded by a path, a lot of signage giving the historical context for the petroglyphs and subsequent pioneer history.  There are a couple big covered picnic shelters nearby.  If you get tired of looking at the glyphs, there is a population of tiny prairie dogs (someone said that they are 'Mexican Prairie Dogs') to watch.

While we were there, a group called Archeology Southwest was doing a survey of the petroglyphs.  I thought they might be using some really fancy photographic technology - and, it turns out they were - just not what I thought.  Apparently, Go Pro is so sophisticated that it does the job.  They take still pictures 360 degrees around each rock inventoried and then they have software that stitches all the stills into a 3-D model of the area.  Some of the work is already published on the internet (I haven't gone to look yet, but I was told it's accessible by the public - just in case you don't want to drive out here yourself).

Screening the rock so the light is good for photographing

Focusing on the glyphs, I almost missed these sunning lizards.

Yuma & Algodones

22 Feb, 2017; Yuma, AZ

Where to stay?

There are lots of options for boondocking near Yuma; Ogilby Rd, American Girl Mine Road, Mittry Lake, Imperial Dam LTVA and Pilot Knob LTVA - just the ones I know about.  We decide, since we're just in Yuma to re-supply then cross into Mexico so Julie can get a dental cleaning, that we'll stay at Pilot Knob 14-day BLM area.

Pilot Knob is not so scenic and is within sight and sound of I8, but it is convenient - only one exit from Hwy 186 and a couple miles from the entry point into Algodones, Mexico.  Pilot Knob is at the edge of a huge dune area, so it is flat, sandy and pretty bleak.  But, even when the desert seems totally lifeless - it's not.  Desert Lily was popping up all over, the Creosote and brittle bush is starting to bloom as well.

Desert Lily

Brisk winds blew up a lot of sand late in the afternoon (and set the trailer rocking overnight) that made sitting outside uncomfortable; however, the sunset looked kind of neat through all the sand.

Algodones, Mexico

The crossing into Mexico is through an Indian Reservation.  They maintain a big parking lot so that tourists can safely leave their cars and just walk over into Mexico.  That's by far the safest and easiest thing to do - parking would be impossible and the streets of this little town are choked with tourists and vendors.  While the streets and sidewalks are just a chaos of vendors and people, colorful patios offer some peace and quiet.

Getting into Mexico is a lot easier than getting out!   The lines stretch around the exit building and up a hill.  Waits of a couple hours are common; we were in line for about 90 minutes.