Rock Art Ranch, near Winslow, Arizona, is a privately owned cattle ranch that is a true wonder of the Old West. The property has more than just cattle and bison: It features excavated Anasazi dwellings, a Navajo hogan and sweat lodge, and amazingly well-preserved examples of petroglyphs carved by American natives.
Archaeological records show that people have been passing through the area for 13,000 years. Hunting and gathering groups, semi nomadic farmers, and later sedentary farmers have left their mark on the land.
The area is still considered to be an active sacred site; over 3,000 petroglyphs have been found throughout the property, most of which are dated from between 5000 BC to 1400 AD. The petroglyphs, which were made by carving into the rock’s surface, line the walls of an accessible two-mile canyon. Images of animals, people, and unknown symbols are easy to spot. One particularly imposing and beautiful petroglyph is of the Mother Of Game, whose life-sized image graces one of the stone escarpments.
Brantley Baird, the owner and proprietor who has lived on the ranch since 1948, allows visitors to stop by and see the petroglyphs. Though not academically trained, Baird discovered many of the sites himself and believed it was important to share them with the public. He has a modest but fascinating museum on the grounds that offers American Indian artifacts found on site, as well as cowboy and pioneer items. Baird opens his ranch to academic archeologists that assist in the excavation and interpretation of the artifacts.
Know Before You Go
Tours are by reservation only. Call 928-386-5047 or 928-288-3260 (Baird will likely answer himself). Visitors will need his directions to find the ranch. Admission is $35 per person for tours, but Brantley throws in his folksy wisdom and charm for free.