Sears Point Petroglyphs – Dateland, Arizona - Atlas Obscura

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Sears Point Petroglyphs

Dateland, Arizona

Some 10,000 works of ancient rock art cover these volcanic basalt outcrops near the Gila River. 


At Sears Point, near the Gila River in Arizona, around two miles of basalt cliff edges are filled with ancient art. There are more than 2,000 panels of rock art, with an estimated 10,000 petroglyphs elements. The area also contains a number of geoglyphs and other features of archaeological interest.

Archaeologists consider Sears Point one of the most significant collections of rock art in the American Southwest. This is due to the sheer density of petroglyphs, as well as the unique style of art. Many of the petroglyphs have been attributed to the Patayan culture tradition. Many different design elements are visible on these panels, including curvilinear, rectilinear, anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, abstract, and stylistic figures. In some places, flat basalt rocks were used for petroglyphs to mark trails. Several major petroglyph panels may be associated with Native American myths and legends. This area around Sears Point has been utilized for centuries by many cultures. Today, there are 15 tribes that claim cultural affiliation with the area.

The Sears Point area also features examples of historic graffiti. Names and dates carved into the rock have been affiliated with early trappers, “49er” gold rush groups, and settlers who passed through the area between 1840 and 1900.

The area embraces a wide array of archaeological sites, including rock alignments, cleared areas, intaglios, petroglyphs, and aboriginal foot trails. The Arizona BLM has designated Sears Point an Area of Critical Environmental Concern, where special attention is required to protect and prevent damage to the site.

Know Before You Go

Park in the cleared area in front of the ridge, without passing the carsonite posts. The dirt road is not maintained by BLM, and is very rough. It can be muddy and dangerous after rain.  Take plenty of water, be aware of bees and snakes. 

There are a couple of ways you can go. Multiple peaks with hundreds and hundreds of ancient petroglyphs. The panels are visible from the trailhead.

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