A one-night stopover in a seemingly unremarkable location, Lyman Lake State Park, yielded big surprises.
Archaeologists date the bottom panel to the Basketmaker period (AD 300 to 700), and it’s one of the earliest panels in the park. The zigzag elements supposedly represent water serpents, to whom the Hopi people would pray for water when there was none in an area. If you look closely at the bottom right, you’ll see a zigzag with a round shape and then three zigzags above it. That signifies a migrating group that split into three or went off into different directions. Two images to the right of it is a symbol that shows a clan that was on migration when it saw the blue star, which was a signal to return to the Hopi mesas to the north.
In the middle of the last century, the Little Colorado river was dammed to create an irrigation reservoir and this canyon was flooded. I wonder how many petroglyphs are under the water.
The next day we drove about an hour northwest to the Petrified Forest National Park. A stop at the visitor center yielded another surprise. Triassic Park?! From Wikipedia: Phytosaurs are an extinct group of large semi-aquatic Late Triassic archosauriform reptiles.
Driving through the park from south to north takes you through some Painted Desert vistas. There are lots of cool spots to stop, hike, and explore along the way. Since this was our driving day and we were going all the way to Sedona, we didn’t have time to explore them all. We did stop at the Puerco Pueblo ruin, which was occupied by ancestral Puebloan people over 600 years ago. There were more petroglyphs, even one that acts as a solar marker for the summer solstice. V. cool, as the kids say.