Petroglyph National Monument

Written by on October 12, 2015 in NM Outdoor Adventures - 1 Comment

Petroglyph National Monument
Named for the Native American rock art (petroglyphs) that dot the park, Petroglyph National Monument is a rugged reminder of the ancient lava flows and volcanic activity that once rocked the land. The cooled lava makes a wonderful canvas for early dwellers to leave their mark — from birds and snakes to star and spirals and more. The black boulders with their coating of desert patina handsomely frame the lighter stone painstaking chipped out by ancient artists using nothing but stone hammers.

The earliest known petroglyphs in Petroglyph National Monument are more than 3,000 years old, made by hunter-gatherers who ranged all across this arid landscape in search of food. Some of the wanders eventually settled in the park, building more permanent pueblo structures and farming the washes at the foot of the mesas. However, most of the rock art falls into the Rio Grande Style, which dates to between 1300 and 1600 A.D. There were 40 pueblo-style villages along the middle Rio Grande and these people were prolific artists.

The best place to see the petroglyphs is in Boca Negra Canyon, just two miles north of the Petroglyph National Monument Visitors Center. Three gentle hiking trails allow you to explore the canyon and discover the rock art for yourself. You’ll be amazed at the dragonflies, spirals, circles and horned masks you will see along the trail.

Volcanic activity took place more than 100,000 years ago along the Rio Grande Rift. Five volcanoes — Butte, Bone, Vulcan, Black and JA rise above the flat plains just west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Petroglyph National Monument offers several hiking trails to allow for viewing of these amazing natural features. Moderate hikes will allow to scale part way up the sides of these dead giants, while a tough scramble will get you to the top.

There are no camping facilities in Petroglyph National Monument, however, the nearby city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, offers every kind of lodging, dining and shopping you could ever dream of.

Petroglyph National Monument
Attn: Visitor Services
6001 Unser Blvd. NW
Albuquerque, NM 87120
Phone: 505-899-0205

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