Red Tank Draw had been on my radar for a few years. I searched for it on a previous trip to the Sedona region, but despite being within a couple of miles of the site, I came up empty-handed. Sad considering the site ended up being relatively easy to locate on this new attempt.
Directions: Take FR 618 east from I-17 for 1.3 miles to at forest road turn off to the north. Take this road to a three-way fork where you take the middle road. Follow this road east until you see the red cliffs of Red Tank Draw. Near the draw the road turns to the left and goes down to the draw bottom. If you don’t have a high clearance vehicle, I recommend parking wherever you are comfortable, and hiking the rest of the way.
Like the petroglyphs at the nearby V_V Ranch, the Red Tank Draw petroglyphs were likely a product of the Sinagua people who inhabited the Verde Valley between A.D. 650 and 1400. These same people built cliff dwellings in the area including but not limited to Montezuma Castle, Montezuma Well, and Tuzigoot.
The particular style of petroglyphs found at Red Tank Draw are called Beaver Creek Style, which is found throughout the eastern section of the Verde Valley. The style is known for it precise execution, and contains a large amount of anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and geometric forms.
Both petroglyphs and pictographs are found along both sides of the red rock cliffs. The largest and most well-known panels contains dozens of zoomorphic figures; bighorn sheep, lizards, and several elk, including a large depiction of an elk. The oddest of the images appear to be of a man engaged in intercourse with a bighorn sheep. Despite the possible bestiality link, many of the figures depicted here are adorable, and designed with good detail.
Across the draw on the east side there is a very interesting site that I haven’t found documented on any other website, possibly because it is well hidden behind vegetation. There are several orange hand print pictographs painted on the wall, and dozens of petroglyphs that appear much older than the ones on the west side of creek. Many of the petroglyphs have a thick layer of moss growing over them, further obscuring them. A set of metates (or grinding slicks) are found here as well. Unfortunately, despite this sites obscurity online, it has been vandalized with a couple of large modern-petroglyphs crudely scratched into one of the walls.
The “rock art” at Red Tank Draw is intriguing, and the gorgeous scenery is an added bonus. If you are visiting V_V Ranch, and/or Montezuma Well and you have the ability I recommend making Red Tank Draw a priority on your list.