Rock Art Ranch is a unique natural wonder about 20 miles southeast of Winslow, that was on my Arizona Bucket List for a few years before I got to it. The highlight is a collection of some of the oldest rock art discovered on Earth. The private 5,000-acre working ranch also features archaeological sites and ancient artifacts unearthed over the years.
I checked Rock Art Ranch off my bucket list in September 2019, shortly after my 20-year stint with the same employer came to an end. I took a week off and roamed around parts of Arizona that I hadn’t seen yet. Among them were iconic places like Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly and Petrified Forest National Monument. All of the sites I visited in Northern Arizona were spectacular, but Rock Art Ranch will forever hold a special place in my heart.
What makes Rock Art Ranch special?
Rock Art Ranch is a private, working cattle ranch owned and managed by Brantley Baird and members of his family.
Most people who visit the ranch are led on a personalized tour around the property by Baird. On the day of my visit – a Tuesday – Baird was away from the ranch to celebrate the triple-digit birthday of a family friend. In Baird’s absence, his granddaughter Cori led the small tour group I was part of.
After about 20 minutes of exploring the museum area, Cori led us into an outdoor courtyard of sorts that’s beautifully landscaped with native plants, petrified wood, boulders and other elements native to the local landscape.
Next, we jumped in our vehicles and followed Cori to a preserved ruins site that was excavated and studied by teams of archaeologists over the years. Before arriving at the petroglyphs site, we were shown a couple of hogans – primitive, hut-like dwellings once occupied by native people. (Watch the video below for a glimpse of the tour.)
Ultimately, we made our way to the feature for which Rock Art Ranch is named: a beautiful, narrow canyon along Chevelon Creek with rock walls decorated by thousands of petroglyphs. Incredibly, I wound up with the whole place to myself. (Check out the video below to see how it happened.) Never have I witnessed such a spectacular display of rock art.
Video Tour of Rock Art Ranch
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Rock Art Ranch quick facts
What to expect
- 23-mile drive from Winslow; 20 miles from Holbrook
- Personalized tour of a 5000-acre working cattle ranch
- Ancient ruins and pottery shards
- Petroglyphs dating back to 600 B.C.
- One-time admission fee allows you to come back again and again
How to get to Rock Art Ranch
- Head south of downtown on AZ-87 S/AZ-99 E/N Williamson Ave for 1.2 miles
- Turn left (east) onto AZ-99 E and proceed east/southeast
- About 1.8 miles past McHood park (Clear Creek) turn sharp left onto Territorial Rd/McLaws Rd for 12 miles
- Turn right (south) onto Rock Art Ranch Rd for 2.9 miles
- From the southwest edge of town, take McLaws Rd/Territorial Rd west for 19.3 miles
- Turn left (south) onto Rock Art Ranch Rd and proceed another 3 miles to the ranch
Tap the map below for directions from your location:
How much does it cost?
Rock Art Ranch is a family-run enterprise with an admission pricing structure that’s as unique as the place itself. For $35 you get admission to the ranch, a guided tour of the museum, ruins and petroglyphs. (Price subject to change.) After your first visit, you’re allowed to come back as many times as you want without paying an admission fee. It’s sort of like a lifetime membership.
How to reserve a Rock Art Ranch tour
As of the time of this writing, there was no online reservation system. To reserve your spot on a tour, you’ll need to call (928) 386-5047. I’ve not been able to locate a website dedicated to the ranch but you can see plenty of images and get more information on the Rock Art Ranch Facebook page.
What I found so fascinating is that this small, world-class enterprise is run only by Baird and a few family members. If you’re ever touring parts of northern Arizona, I strongly urge you to plan a half-day to visit Rock Art Ranch. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.