With towering saguaros that are native only to the northern Sonoran Desert, the Saguaro National Park is a beautiful and unique place for an Arizona desert hike. Making a Sonoran Desert hike here even more remarkable is the abundance of petroglyphs in the park.
Petroglyphs are the ancient graffiti of the southwestern United States. Here at Saguaro National Park, they are pictures of spirals, animals and squiggly lines that were etched or scraped into the rocks by the prehistoric Hohokam. It’s unknown whether petroglyphs were religious symbols, directional signals or simply decorative.
Whatever the reason, the rock art at Saguaro National Park stands the test of time at an estimated 800 years old. These mysterious etchings are easily viewed at Saguaro National Park West on the Signal Hill Trail.
Less than 0.5 miles roundtrip, the Signal Hill Petroglyph site is a modest climb with dozens of petroglyphs lining the path.
It is a must-stop on any visit to Saguaro National Park. Combine it with a trip to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum down the street to make for a fun day in the Sonoran Desert:
Signal Hill Trail:
Location: Get your National Park Passport stamp at the Red Hills Visitors Center (located at 2700 N Kinney Road in Tucson) before heading to the Signal Hill picnic area off of Golden Gate Road.
Length: Less than 0.5 miles roundtrip
Time: 30 minutes
Fun Fact: The slow-growing saguaro (pronounced suh-wahr-oh) may reach 40 feet tall (plus!) but its root system reaches only four inches into the ground with the exception of a single long taproot.
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