5 MUST-SEE PREHISTORIC PETROGLYPH SITES

Story by Ann Shea

I first heard of the word petroglyph when I was visiting St. George, Utah. There is a small scenic area named Bloomington Petroglyph Park. There are several large boulders here, and one can walk around them to discover various carved figures called petroglyphs. They can be found at many prehistoric petroglyph sites in the western states such as Utah, Nevada, California, New Mexico, and Arizona. 

Petroglyphs are found worldwide and are often associated with prehistoric peoples, from China to Africa, Scandinavia, and Australia, and the Americas. In fact, petroglyphs have been found in all parts of the world except Antarctica. We put together a list of a few of the Must-See Prehistoric Petroglyph Sites for you to visit.

Photo courtesy of @american_overland

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIEROGLYPH AND PETROGLYPH?

A hieroglyph is an element of a idea-based writing system, while petroglyph is a rock carving, especially one made in prehistoric times. The word comes from the Greek prefix petro-, and glýphō meaning “to carve”, and was originally coined in French as pétroglyphe.

petroglyph is an image that was made by ancient peoples by abrading, carving or incising a rock surface to make art or symbols. They shouldn’t be confused with painted rock symbols called pictographs.

Photo courtesy of @courtadventures

Petroglyphs are powerful cultural symbols that reflect beliefs and religions of the tribes and ancient peoples that created them. It’s remarkable that these carvings have survived the effects of weather and time (and the potential of human defacement) for so many years. In many areas, they are still considered sacred spots although tourists are welcome to witness and explore them.

5 places around the globe to discover Prehistoric Petroglyphs :

5.   Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

33.6219° S, 151.2451° E

This National Park can be found just north of Sydney Australia. Not only is it an amazing place to explore, it also includes Aboriginal depictions of kangaroos, emus, and wallabies, people, and boomerangs. There are a few sites where you can find the ancient artwork, notably those along the Basin Track, Elvina Track, Cowan Track, and the Red Hand Track. It has some of the best prehistorical petroglyph sites you can find down under.

Photo courtesy of @angiesummers82
Photo courtesy of @sittinsenegez

4.   Twyfelfontein

20.5964° S, 14.3734° E

Twyfelfontein is located in the southern Kunene Region of Namibia and contains between 2,000 to 2,500 rock carvings. It’s one of the most popular destinations for tourists in Namibia. Pathways lead to viewing platforms from which you can take in the major engravings and there are plenty to view; The animals reflect the African location, and  including lions, rhinos, elephants, a giant giraffe, and more.

3.  NINE MILE CANYON

39.4620° N, -110.2959° W

Nine Mile Canyon is a 40-mile-long canyon in eastern Utah. Fondly known as “the world’s longest art gallery”, the canyon has many petroglyphs, most of them created by the Fremont culture and the Ute people. One of the best parts about it, its dog-friendly so bring your best friend with you to one America’s must-see prehistorical petroglyph sites.

Photo courtesy of @june_adventures
photo courtesy of @valley.of.fire

2.   VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK

36.4855° N, 114.5313° W

Valley of Fire State Park is one of the many beautiful  State Parks in Nevada. You can find petroglyphs that carved into the rocks by the Basketmaker people about 2,500 to 3,000 years ago, followed later by the Early Pueblo culture. A half-mile hike through the park reveals rock carvings of bighorn sheep, dancers, birds, and sun symbols.

1.   Petroglyph National Monument

35.1368° N, 106.7405° W

Petroglyph National Monument This national monument located in Albuquerque, New Mexico’s protects one of the largest collections of petroglyphs in the US. There are an estimated 25,000 petroglyph images along the 17 miles of escarpment within the monument boundary. Due to how many ancient images can be found here, Petroglyph National Monument is definitely one of the must-see prehistoric petroglyph sites to put on your bucket list.

Photo courtesy of @sayhellotoamerica

Enjoy these marvels of art that speak so eloquently to our primal selves after so many years.

Story By Ann Shea

Ann Shea is a writer who lives in S. Florida and loves to travel and connect with fellow citizens of the world. You can find her on LinkedIn and also on Instagram.