WACA 462 – Verde Incised Style Petroglyphs

WACA 462 is the largest petroglyph site at Walnut Canyon National Monument, spanning about 60 meters along the bottom of the canyon in the Coconino Sandstone formation. There are at least 8 panels, distinct groupings of petroglyphs, arranged at various intervals along that length. Interestingly, there are at least 3 styles of petroglyphs here:

  • A set of simple vertical scratches in the rock face, characteristic of Archaic style rock images.
  • A large number of petroglyphs pecked into the rock faces, with elements characteristic of Sinagua rock images; these include human figures, animals, geometrics, and a large number of footprints.
  • A large number of incised grooves, sometimes creating stick figures of humans. While some reports have described these as “sharpening grooves”, places where tools like axes and hoes might have been sharpened by rubbing against the abrasive sandstone, the current thought is that these are examples of the “Verde Incised” style, a rock image style more commonly found in the Verde Valley well to the south. Peter Pilles, chief archaeologist of the Coconino National Forest, has been studying examples of this style for 20 years, and he believes it was created by the Tonto Apache.

There is also an inscribed “US” on one panel. The style of the letters, and their carefully-precise inscribing, suggests that it may have been created by US military traveling through the canyon. But this is only a guess.

Because of the large size of the site, and multiple panels, each panel at WACA 462 has its own section, accessible from the links at right. Look though each of the menus to see the different options for viewing the panels.