Take a historical hike among 15,000, ancient rock drawings which date back thousands of years (just remember to bring a ... More
Petroglyph National Monument
Take a historical hike among 15,000, ancient rock drawings which date back thousands of years (just remember to bring a camera, some comfortable walking shoes and a hat). The 7,100-acre monument contains some of the nation's largest natural displays of prehistoric artwork. Anasazi nomadic hunters etched various drawings and messages onto the black basalt boulders of the escarpment just west of the Rio Grande. This is an adventurous, educational experience. Visitors can take a ranger-guided tour that can last up to two hours or explore various trails on their own.
We began our late-September trip to Petroglyph National Monument at the Visitor’s Center. Our small group spoke with a very friendly staff member who, after asking several questions regarding the goals of our visit, suggested we try the Boca Negra Canyon Trails. The Boca Negra Canyon Trails are three relatively short trails (5, 15 and 30 minutes) a quick drive away from the Visitor’s Center where you can quickly and easily see quite a few petroglyphs. We paid $1 to enter the Boca Negra Canyon Trails park and walked the 5-minute Macaw trail and the 15-minute Cliff Base trail. Due to very uneven terrain and the well-advertised possibility of snakes, it is recommended that visitors wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes.
Pros: The petroglyphs we saw were amazing and quickly sparked our imagination as to the native residents who created the designs. The availability of short trails offers easily-accessible petroglyphs to park visitors that may have physical limitations that would preclude a longer or more arduous hike. The view from the park was beautiful and the parking lot and grounds were clean and litter-free.
Cons: There are quite a few unfortunate examples of modern graffiti and in a couple of situations we found ourselves trying to figure out which petroglyphs were genuine and which were not. The majority of the explanatory plaques and signs appeared old and weathered and were not legible.
The petrogylphs were fun to try and find.The petroglyphs were neat, but comming back to our car being broken into was not. It occurs often they say. Be carefull. Don't leave anything in the vehicle or have out of state licence plates.
I believe that is the approximate guesstimate as to how many "rock carvings" are located within this new National Monument, west of the Rio Grande River. A few "facts" that may help you on your visit. The petroglyps are scattered over a very large area, so you are not going to see thousands of petroglyphs in a short stroll. The carvings are done on black basault, from volcanic flows in prehistoric times long past. (The remnants of these volcanoes are on the West Mesa above.) Because the hardened flows are black, this area is very hot in the Summer. There is also the real possibility of Rattlesnakes in the area, but being shy by nature, and seeking to avoid the heat, they are rarely seen. This Albuquerquean recommends visiting the petroglyphs during cooler times of the year. Winter is probably the best if it's a nice sunny day. I agree, the small Visitor's Center, and enthusiastic staff are top notch, and you certainly can't say you were gyped with a free admission! :-)
Petroglyphs is a fantastic place...You will want to have good, sturdy shoes as you climb a hill on a narrow, sometimes slippery pathway. Take water....The petroglyphs are amazing, and we met up with a park ranger that was very informative and eager to discuss the whole park and the history in general......
The volunteer at the Visitors Center was very helpful, knowledgable, and friendly.
The restroom in the Visitors Center was spotless!
I suggest that you wear hiking boots or jogging shoes when visiting the walking trails. Be prepared to do some walking on hilly terrain.
The trails and grounds were well maintained and kept free of litter. The grounds keepers and Visitor Center staff deserve an atta-boy!
My family and I really enjoyed our hike around the site exploring all the petroglyps. We had a reasonably easy time hiking up the mesa with a 6 and 8 year old in tow. The drawings were quite amazing. The price was right too (free)!
One of the most wonderous places we've ever been. The experience of finding the petroglyphs yourself was part of the ambience. Recommend you take water and drink it if you're not used to walking much as the pathway was sand.
I walked down the trail maybe 15 minutes. The petroglyphs I did see make you wonder what was going on that long ago when the Indians drew on the rocks like that. Very neat to see that history! Make sure to take a water bottle if you intend to walk back very far.
Cons: I sometimes wondered if I was looking at graffiti done recently by someone defacing history or if they were the "real thing". You have to walk the trails close to the rocks in order to see as there are no signs or maps telling you where to look.
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