Petroglyph National Monument
Petroglyph National Monument protects and preserves one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America. Petroglyphs are ancient rock carvings/drawings created by the early dwellers of the region. This place takes you back in time, where you can witness some of the sacred beliefs and religion of the Native Americans and Spanish settlers, carved on the volcanic rocks around 400 – 700 years ago. The park offers a visitor center and several hiking trails.
My recommendation: Skip the visitor center head directly to the desired trail. My favorite is the Boca Negra Canyon, which is the least strenuous of all the trails. Carry a lot of water, apply sunscreen, and put on walking shoes.
Boca Negra Canyon: This trail offers the opportunity to view around 100 petroglyphs. It’s a moderate hike, takes about 1 hour, and is 0.6 miles long, has restrooms and drinking fountains. The trail is open every day from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, with last entry at 4:00 PM., there’s a parking fee – $1 Monday-Friday or $2 on Saturday & Sunday. GPS Lat: 35.161 Long: -106.719
Rinconada Canyon: This is the longest trail in the park, offering the opportunity to see approximately 300 petroglyphs. It’s a moderately strenuous hike, takes about 2 hours for a 2.2 miles round trip hike, has restroom and locker facilities at the head of the trail, but there is no provision for water on the trail. Access is allowed sunrise to sunset, parking lot open daily 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. GPS Lat: 35.127 Long: -106.725
Piedras Marcadas Canyon: This trail provides an opportunity to see 300-500 petroglyphs, takes 1.5 hours for a round trip of 1.5 miles. However, there are no restrooms or drinking fountains along the trail. Open daily from sunrise to sunset. GPS Lat: 35.188749 Long: -106.68560
Volcanoes Day Use Area: This trail has no petroglyphs but offers scenic miles of hiking around the volcanic cinder cones. You can choose to hike anywhere between – 1 to 4 miles round trip, 1-4 hours. There are no restrooms or drinking fountains. The parking lot opens daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Access is allowed sunrise to sunset. GPS Lat: 35.130817 Long: -106.780826
Petroglyphs are not just “rock art,” they are cultural symbols representing societies and religions of the tribes.
Visitor Center: There is a visitor center with an information counter, a cute little store, and plays a short movie about the park. However, the visitor center does not have any petroglyphs. In my opinion, you can skip the visitor center and directly head to the trails, where you get to see the petroglyphs. However, if you wish to stop at the visitor center, use this GPS Lat: 35.139 Long: -106.711.
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