Petroglyphs - the Tempi'po'op Trail
The easiest access to the Santa Clara River petroglyphs is from the Anasazi Valley trailhead, on the north side of the reserve, set amidst largely undeveloped surroundings close to the river, which at this point is privately owned. Parking is free, and notices give information about the various trails in the reserve. Upstream, the river is enclosed by low, sandy slopes, but to the south the ground rises to form a substantial escarpment, on the east side, up to 300 feet above the river. East of here, the land slopes down very gradually towards the highway. The top of the high ground is formed of an even layer of erosion-resistant conglomerate (the Shinarump member of the Chinle Formation), lying on top of the upper red member of the Moenkopi Formation, which is exposed most extensively on the cliffs bordering the east side of the river. The path (the Tempi'po'op Trail
) heads south, taking an excessively zig-zagging course up the sparsely vegetated slope, where the winding mariposa lily
is perhaps the most eye-catching wildflower species. A short side-loop after 0.7 miles explores the partly reconstructed remains of a prehistoric farmstead, consisting of low walls and enclosures, built around 1,000 years ago. The petroglyphs start not far beyond, and extend for several hundred feet, generally just below the plateau edge, on boulders - sometimes they are small isolated figures, in other places they occur in large groups, and are found either on the side of the rocks or more usually on the top. Below the plateau, the land falls away steeply to the willow- and grass-filled river corridor, with dry-looking, stony hills beyond, the closer of which are still red, while those further away are white or pinkish, formed of the underlining Shnabkaib member of the Moenkopi Formation. The main trail ends at the petroglyphs, though a somewhat narrower route continues south along the rim, later passing a few smaller groups of the rock art, and reaches the Tukupetsi trailhead in another 2 miles.