There are very few ancient native heritage sites that are conveniently located by the roadside and even less offer full access for those who are physically challenged. The Puerco Pueblo in the Petrified Forest National Park is one of the exceptions, so practically anybody can experience this unique sacred place. There is ample room for parking, basic facilities and the pathways through the pueblo complex are paved, which is a real plus.
A lot can learned about native culture by touring this pueblo and there are some interesting petroglyphs that can be pondered over for a lifetime. Just like many other ancient communities in the southwest, the Puerco Pueblo was abandoned during a severe period of drought that occurred almost 800 years ago. The Puerco River provided irrigation for organized agricultural practices and this resource attracted plenty of wild game, which supported cultural growth for several hundred years. The Puerco Pueblo stone block and mortar structure eventually grew to over 100 rooms and housed several hundred people. The Puerco River also facilitated trade, so this was likely a well known cultural center in this region.
The pathways meander through the entire pueblo complex and there is a trail that heads back to the parking lot that overlooks a grassy basin from the high ground. Gigantic boulders and rock outcrops cover the slope and several ancient petroglyphs can be seen in this area. Not all of the rock art is marked with signage, so it pays to take a close look while strolling by. Some of the petroglyphs reflect upon the local terrain and resources, while others present evidence of advanced astronomical practices. In fact, there is one particular petroglyph that actually is a documented solar calendar that shows when the equinox and solstice occurs on an annual basis. Because there is so much to learn in this unique ancient place, a tour of Puerco Pueblo definitely is a worthwhile venture, so be sure to take a look!
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