Pueblo Remains

Pueblo Remains

Our last trip on the Bloody Basin Road took us about 8.3 miles to the Pueblo la Plata site in the Agua Fria National Monument. This time we traveled farther along this unimproved dirt road in a high clearance four-wheel drive vehicle owned by visiting adventurous friends. Our first stop was in the Tonto National Forest near the remains of a tall stone chimney. After exploring the small pueblo site there, we climbed 100 feet to the top of the nearby mesa.  Our bushwhacking put us in contact with prickly plants that left me feeling like a human pincushion. Stone masonry pueblos lined the top of this 4,098 foot high mesa with commanding views. Upon our descent we drove to a nearby abandoned mining site with a structure probably used as a bunkhouse. A storage cellar and a deep well were close by.

Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs

Our next destination was a cliff in the valley west of the mesa we had climbed. Our walk along the bottom of this cliff was like seeing a continuous blackboard where Native peoples who inhabited this area between 1250-1450 expressed themselves. These petroglyphs depict a range of images. There are animals such as lizards and antlered deer, people, and abstract or geometric designs. These pieces of rock art are formed by scraping dark layers of “desert varnish” off the stone. The Tonto National Forest covers some three million acres. To me the land varies little from the adjacent Agua Fria National Monument. It is interesting to speculate who and why these petroglyphs were created.

 

Reflection Pool

Reflection Pool

Our final stop was in the Perry Tank Canyon. To get there we opened and then closed a gate that crossed the Forest Service road. We could see cattle grazing in this section of the high mesa semi-desert grassland. After exploring one of the 450 distinct Native peoples sites in the Agua Fria National Monument, we descended a quarter of a mile into a canyon with several large clear pools of water. On the other side of the canyon we saw more rock art, including a sun with multiple rays. A colorful sunset gifted us as we made our return to Prescott.

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