Tucson's Signal Hill Petroglyphs - 1,000 Year Old Graffiti

Mortgage and Lending with SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) NMLS 223495

Ancient petroglyphs at Signal Hill, Saguaro National Park West

Tucson's Signal Hill Petroglyphs are thought to be as old as 1,000 years or more.  Signal Hill is located in Saguaro National Park West, on the western flank of the Tucson Mountains.  It's immediately south of the community of Picture Rocks, so named because of the ancient rock art you see here.

Petroglyphs depict the sun, snakes, game animals and humansI spent my Sunday afternoon hiking in the Park with the intent of photographing some of the petroglyphs to share with you.  They're beautiful, aren't they?

Abstract designs outnumber life formsNo one knows just what they mean.  Created by ancient Amerindians known today as Hohokam, the images of the sun, snakes, lizards, game animals and humans may have had religious or ceremonial significance.  They may have been clan markers.  There's even the possibility that they are just 1,000 year old graffiti!

Abstract designs outnumber life forms (human figures, lizards, game animals, etc.) in Tucson, and petroglyphs like these are found all over the southwest.

This one looks like a snake to me, but who knows?In the world of modern art, I'm a fan of Robert Motherwell, so the idea of ancient abstract art just around the mountain from my home gives me a certain sense of joy.  Then again, if it's outdoors and involves hiking and photography, I'm all for it.

Creating the finished petroglyph took the Hohokam artist quite a while.  Do you want to know how they did it?

The basalt boulders you see here are covered with a substance called "desert varnish," a hard dark coating that hides the lighter basalt rock beneath.

Hohokam artists would "peck" at the surface, striking one rock tool against the surface Anderson was an idiot!with another rock repeatedly until the varnish gave way, creating the outline of the petroglyph.  If you had the time and inclination, you could do it yourself.  (Not in the Park, though.)

Next time you visit Tucson, you can watch modern artists creating petroglyphs in exactly the same manner.  You'll find them working periodically at the Tohono Chul Park.

One such artist is Desert Little Bear.  His website is www.rockartcreations.com  Check him out. 

And come visit Tucson soon, but not without calling me first!


I'm Mike in Tucson, your preferred Tucson, AZ Mortgage lender.
Mike Jones (Tucson Mortgage Company, LLC): Loan Officer in Tucson, Pima County, Arizona
Call me
if I can help you or someone you know with a purchase or refi mortgage.
(520) 349-9090


Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. D B 09/14/2009 02:04 PM
Real Estate General Information
Arizona Pima County Tucson Picture Rocks
Posts to Localism
Things to Do/Places to Visit
Local Expert
The Ninety-ninth Percentile
Give Back
signal hill
mike in tucson
tucson mortgage
saguaro national park west
sunstreet mortgage
tohono chul
desert little bear

Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Lynn Kline
Owner/Broker of Lynn Kline Realty, Inc. - Tucson, AZ
CRS, GRI, ABR, SFR Tucson, AZ Realtor

Hi Mike:  I used to spend hours a week looking for artifacts like this!  I will have to go and check this out too!  Thanks

Sep 14, 2009 10:03 AM #35
Don Rogers
Keller Williams Realty Chesterfield - O'Fallon, MO
Realtor, Broker, CDPE, GRI, OnullFallon MO & St Charles County MO homes


This is a very interesting local history post loaded with information.  Thank you sir for sharing.

Sep 14, 2009 11:33 AM #36
Patrick Randles
Nova Home Loans - Tucson, AZ


I am out on "dueling blogs". You have an unfair advantage: You are good at this. I would take you up on that hike on the East side of town, however.


Sep 14, 2009 12:27 PM #37
Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re

I love the photos . I think it would be funny if a 1000 years ago a young man wanted to profess his love for his sweet heart and chipped the story on the rock and now we are still trying to figure out what he wanted to say.

Sep 14, 2009 01:38 PM #38
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495


That's him in the photo up on the left.  LOL


I'd love to do that!  Let's plan it.


You're welcome!


It's good to see you; thanks for commenting.  It's easy to reach, and there's good parking nearby.


When I first moved out here, it all looked like brown dirt to me.  It grows on you.


Thank you!  I'm listening to it for the second time as I return comments.  Perfect!


You're welcome!  Plan a visit.


All it takes is a little plan.


Call me.  I'll give you a list of places.


I'll bet you have some great photos and stories from around the world.  Blog on!

Mike in Tucson

Sep 14, 2009 02:02 PM #39
Ann Heitland
Retired from RE/MAX Peak Properties - Flagstaff, AZ
Retired from Flagstaff Real Estate Sales

Beautiful pics! Congratulations on gaining the #1 position in Arizona on Active Rain!

Sep 14, 2009 04:20 PM #40
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495


Thanks for your readership, thoughtful comments, and encouragement over the last two years.

Mike in Tucson

Sep 14, 2009 04:28 PM #41
Karen Cooper
Karen Cooper | Sr Retail Loan Originator ! NMLS # 223305 | 360 Mortgage Group LLC Austin Texas - Leander, TX
Helping Homeowners w/Home Loans in 27 US States

Hi Mike - Yet another good reason to visit Tucson! Looks like a wonderful place to see and explore. You've shared some marvelous photos, once again.

Sep 14, 2009 04:45 PM #42
Kevin Wood,
Keller Williams Southern Arizona - Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ Realtor


Thanks for continuing the tradition of awesome photos and the story behind them. See you Wednesday Uncle Mike at Sakura!

Sep 14, 2009 06:04 PM #43
Carol Smith
Casmi Photography - Mebane, NC

Penny pot?  Heck no!  There's green paper being shoved in that thing!  :)  I'm gonna get there - you'll see!  LOL

Sep 14, 2009 11:50 PM #44
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495


That's the spirit!


I'm looking forward to it.


Tucson certainly is a "wonderful place to see and explore!"  Just do it.  :)

Mike in Tucson

Sep 15, 2009 12:44 AM #45
Kathy Clulow
RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage - Uxbridge, ON
Trusted For Experience - Respected For Results

Mike - you obviously have a love of clouds - I love the one here and in your saturday night post

Sep 15, 2009 05:56 AM #46
Cynthia Bartch
Home Stager/Property Stylist & more! Granville, Ohio - Granville, OH
Redesigned Spaces; All Round Nice Gal

I promise Mike I have several blogs in the works one is how to have fun w/ paint!

Sep 15, 2009 07:55 AM #47
Jacque Calkins
Sunstreet Mortgage, LLC - Tucson, AZ

Hi Mike,

Thank you for sharing the pictures of the beauty of Arizona with all of us.  Jacque

Sep 15, 2009 11:23 AM #48
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495


Thanks for stopping by to comment!  I'll see you on your blog.


Cool.  See you on your blog!

Mike in Tucson

Sep 15, 2009 11:34 AM #49
David W. Brown
Thor Design Building & Development, Inc. CL#877779 - San Diego, CA

Graffiti is cool and an art form.  Just go to Los Angeles or New York and you will see some pretty creative stuff done with a paint can.  Just wondering if people a 1,000 years ago went to jail or paid fines for painting on rocks? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Sep 16, 2009 03:50 PM #50
Liz Moras Migic
Chilliwack, BC
Chilliwack, British Columbia - Realtor

Missed this - pretty darn incredible! And congratulations on the Feature!

Sep 19, 2009 04:11 AM #51
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495


And to think I've lived here for twelve years before finding it!


The only thing they had to worry about were the mountain lions attracted by the "click, click" of the artist chipping away at the boulder.  LOL

Mike in Tucson

Sep 19, 2009 04:16 AM #52
Russel Ray, San Diego Business & Marketing Consultant & Photographer
Russel Ray - San Diego State University, CA

I visited Signal Hill back in the Summer of 1973. It was part of my high school graduation present to myself to visit all the national parks, national monuments, and national forests west of the Mississippi. Still the best summer I ever had.

Sep 19, 2009 07:04 PM #53
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495


I'll bet it was!  I don't even know the number of national parks, monuments and forests west of the Mississippi.  And in 1973 Saguaro National Park was a Monument.  That means you'll have to return to keep your record intact.

Mike in Tucson

Sep 20, 2009 12:25 AM #54
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?


Mike Jones

Mike Jones NMLS 223495
Ask me a question
Spam prevention

Additional Information