Puerco Pueblo Trail, Puerco Pueblo Trailhead, Petrified Forest National Park - Painted Desert, Arizona
Puerco Pueblo Trail - 0.35 miles
Puerco Pueblo Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||0.35 miles (handicap accessible)|
|Start-End Elevation:||5,350' - 5,350' (5,374' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+41' total roundtrip elevation gain|
Puerco Pueblo Trail - 0.35 Miles Round-Trip
The Puerco Pueblo Ruins is the largest known archeological site within Petrified Forest National Park.
The partially excavated remains, inhabited between 1250 and 1380 AD, are but a fragment of the original 100-room complex that surrounded a large plaza. Still considered a small settlement, only 18 families were thought to have lived here at its peak
The Puerco Pueblo straddled the cultural frontier between the Anasazi / Hopi peoples to the north, and the Mogollon / Zuni people of the south. Artifacts found in the pueblo indicate interaction between tribes.
The people who lived here were prehistoric homesteaders, planting crops in the water-retaining sandy soils of the Puerco River floodplain.
A short paved interpretive loop circles the complex, with only a few discernable buildings left intact. The minimal remains are subjectively interesting, but numerous petroglyphs just outside the loop are quite extraordinary.
Animals and hunting scenes are etched into nearby rocks, easily seen from several designated viewpoints along the way.
Images include human faces, bighorn sheep, antelope, birds, lizards and snakes. Why these were portrayed and their exact meanings are unknown, though many believe they were simple representations of everyday life.
As you travel about the remains, look north towards the Puerco River and its verdant banks. It's easy to see how and why - with such a vital resource nearby - indigenous people would choose and could thrive in this particular location.
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N34 58.573 W109 47.627 — 0.0 Miles: Puerco Pueblo Trailhead
- Three rectangular Kivas have been unearthed. A Kiva is a place where men gathered to meet, work and perform ceremonies.
- Hearths were found in some rooms indicating where living quarters may have been, while more simply constructed rooms were likely used for storage.
- The windowless walls of the settlement were extremely thick, perhaps to act as a barrier to strong southwesterly winds.
- The ruin was first excavated by John Muir in 1905 and 1906. His fascination with and passion for the area helped drive protective legislation.
- Nearby Newspaper Rock maintains an even more impressive collection of petroglyphs.
Rules and Regulations
- Do not touch, lean or climb on the remains or petroglyphs.
- Collection of plants, rocks, petrified wood, fossils, archeological objects or other materials is illegal anywhere in the park. Rules are strictly enforced and violators are subject to significant penalties.
- Pets are permitted on maintained trails, but must be kept on a leash at all times. Pets are not allowed within Wilderness Areas, nor on the Wilderness Access Trail near The Painted Desert Inn. Pets are not allowed in buildings unless they are service animals.
Directions to Trailhead
The Puerco Pueblo Trailhead is located approximately 11 miles from the Park Entrance Station on Park Road. The parking lot is on the east side of Park Road.
Petrified Forest National Park
1 Park Road
P.O. Box 2217
Petrified Forest, AZ 86028
928 524.3567 (fax)