Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs Archeological District

Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs at Petrified Forest National Park

After viewing petroglyphs in Grand Canyon National Park, Death Valley National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and Dinosaur National Monument, as well as visiting the Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve, the Puakō Petroglyph Archaeological District, and Indian Grinding Rock State Park, we were excited to check out the famous petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock in Petrified Forest National park too!

Newspaper Rock displays more than 650 petroglyphs, some more than 2,000 years old and can been seen from an overlook above it.

One thing to note is that Newspaper Rock isn’t just one rock covered in ancestral Puebloan petroglyphs like the name leads you to believe. Instead, it’s a large collection of piled rocks and boulders, with many of them boasting petroglyphs.

Unfortunately, due to unstable slopes, Newspaper Rock and the area around it is closed and you can only see them from the observation platform high above. Luckily, a few viewing telescopes are available to use for free at the viewpoint. Through the telescopes and binoculars, you can see a lot of petroglyphs but nowhere near 650.

Newspaper Rock features the largest concentration of petroglyphs in Petrified Forest National Park.

These petroglyphs are easier to see than others we have visited. The dark coating on some of the rocks, called desert varnish, makes the petroglyphs stand out by showing the lighter rock beneath. Modern interpretations of the petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock include calendar events, symbols with spiritual meanings, territory boundaries, or specific family and clan symbols, and some of the original artists are believed to have lived at Puerco Pueblo.

Quick Tip: Bring your own binoculars! Trust me, you’re going to need time to find all of the petroglyphs. Plus, if you’re not the only people at the Newspaper Rock viewpoint, your kids may get a little antsy waiting in line for those taking their tme to check out the designs themselves.

About The Petrified Forest Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs are images, symbols, or designs that are scratched, pecked, carved, or incised on natural rock surfaces created hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Most petroglyphs in the park are believed to be 600 to 1,100 years old, with some even older. The oldest dated petroglyph in Petrified Forest National Park is 2,000 years old.

Archeologists have categorized the petroglyphs found in Petrified Forest into six distinct groups:

  1. Anthropomorphs (human form)
  2. Zoomorphs (animal shape)
  3. Katsinas (in Hopi) or Kokos (in Zuni), which are spirit shapes
  4. Hands/tracks
  5. Geometrics
  6. Indeterminate shapes

Know Before You Go

  • Newspaper Rock at Petrified Forest National Park is located north of the Rainbow Forest Museum and Visitor Center on Park Road in Arizona’s Apache County.
  • Newspaper Rock displays more than 650 petroglyphs, some more than 2,000 years old and can been seen from an overlook above it. Free telescopes are available, but bring binoculars!
  • The Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs Archeological District is part of the Petrified Forest National Park and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
  • Oils and acids from your hands can damage petroglyphs and desert varnish, so do not touch the petroglyphs or climb up or down to any of the petroglyphs sites. Altering, damaging, or defacing the petroglyphs is against the law.
  • Download the Petrified Forest National Park Map.
  • Petrified Forest National Park actually closes! The park is open daily year-round from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. When staff permits, extended hours go into effect from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm — and they’re not kidding. The park gates actually close and rangers drive the main park road around 4:30 telling you to wrap it up and start heading out of the park.
  • The Petrified Forest landscape is an extremely dry, high altitude desert so pack lots of water, even for short day hikes, to avoid heat exhaustion.
  • Petrified Forest is one of the most animal friendly national parks. You can bring your leashed pet any place you are allowed to go except into the buildings.
  • Removal of petrified wood or other materials is against the law. Do not collect or take home pieces of the wood from the National Park.

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