The Ultimate Guide To Petroglyph National Monument

The Ultimate Guide To Petroglyph National Monument

New Mexico
Petroglyph National Monument | New Mexico Travel Guide

Petroglyph National Monument, one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America!

Petroglyphs are ancient rock carvings created by removing the upper layer of the rock using chisels, hammers, or stone.

The word Petroglyphs comes from the Greek words – “petra” meaning stone and “glyphe” meaning carving. Petroglyphs are found worldwide and are primarily associated with ancient people and their sacred beliefs and religion.

The Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is one of the largest petroglyph sites in the US. The Petroglyph National Monument protects a vast area and preserves more than 20,000 petroglyphs created several years ago by the Native Americans and Spanish settlers in the area.

Petroglyphs have been of great interest to historians, who study and interpret petroglyphs, and it’s with their help today we can understand and relate several of these petroglyphs. However, there’re several unrecognized petroglyphs that remain a mystery.

Petroglyph National Monument, New Mexico, presents a unique opportunity to see several ancient petroglyphs.

Here is my ultimate guide to Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico, featuring several hiking trails, a map with the trails' locations, a suggested itinerary, and recommendations on hotels and restaurants near Petroglyph National Monument.

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Getting To Petroglyph National Monument

Getting To Petroglyph National Monument New Mexico Travel Guide

Petroglyph National Monument is located just a few miles from Albuquerque airport.

Petroglyph National Monument is located in Albuquerque in west-central New Mexico. While there’re a few public transportation options in New Mexico, it’s sparse, so I highly recommend flying into Albuquerque, renting a car, and driving to Petroglyph National Monument.

Airports Near Petroglyph National Monument

Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ), Albuquerque, NM, is the closest airport to Petroglyph National Monument, 12 miles from Petroglyph National Monument, about 20 minutes drive. Santa Fe Regional Airport (SAF), Santa Fe, NM, 60 miles from Petroglyph National Monument, about one hour drive.

Train and Bus services to Petroglyph National Monument

Amtrak offers passenger train service on the Southwest Chief that runs between Chicago and Los Angeles, stopping at few major cities in New Mexico Amtrak stations, including Albuquerque (ABQ), Gallup (GLP), Lamy (LMY), Las Vegas (LVS), and Raton (RAT).

However, there are no direct bus services to Petroglyph National Monument, and you will have to take multiple buses and walk quite a bit to get to Petroglyph National Monument.

So, hiring a taxi, ride-hailing services like Uber, Lyft, or renting a car is the best way to reach Petroglyph National Monument from the airport or a train station.

Driving To Petroglyph National Monument

The best way to get to Petroglyph National Monument or any other attractions in New Mexico is by flying into New Mexico and then renting a car and driving to different places within New Mexico.

Driving distance to Petroglyph National Monument from major cities in New Mexico

  • Albuquerque to Petroglyph National Monument: 8 miles, 15 minutes drive
  • Santa Fe to Petroglyph National Monument: 60 miles, one hour drive
  • Santa Rosa to Petroglyph National Monument: 125 miles, 2 hours drive
  • Roswell to Petroglyph National Monument: 205 miles, 3 hours drive
  • Alamogordo to Petroglyph National Monument: 216 miles, 3 hours 20 minutes drive
  • Carlsbad to Petroglyph National Monument: 290 miles, 4 hours 20 minutes drive

The driving time may differ based on the weather and road conditions. You can find other details about New Mexico, including weather, transportation options, and more in my New Mexico Travel Guide.

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Things To Do In Petroglyph National Monument

Things To Do In Petroglyph National Monument

See petroglyphs and hike around volcanic cinder cones in Petroglyph National Monument!

Viewing the petroglyphs, hiking around volcanic cinder cones, and a visitor center are the Petroglyph National Monument’s main attractions. The petroglyphs are located in three main sections, Boca Negra Canyon, Rinconada Canyon, Piedras Marcadas Canyon, and can be viewed only by hiking the trails in these regions.

open days and time

Timing: Every trail has different timings, please refer the “Park Hiking Trails” section below.

Closed: Thanksgiving Day, December 25 , and January 1


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.

audio tour

National Park Services now offers OnCell phone audio tours in some parks. When visiting Petroglyph National Monument, you can listen to these pre-recorded narrations by calling the number: 505.353.3004 and then entering the stop numbers found on the trails, look for the signs, “Park Ranger Audio Tour.”

Hiking Trails In Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument Hiking Trail Map

There’re four hiking trails in Petroglyph National Monument. Three trails lead you to several petroglyphs, and one lets you explore the volcanic cinder cones with beautiful views of the Rio Grande Valley and the Sandia Mountains. 

You can select a trail depending upon the time you’re planning to spend at Petroglyph National Monument. However, if you don’t have much time or wish to do only one hike, I would recommend hiking the Boca Negra Canyon trail.

Hiking Trails Leading To Petroglyphs

Boca Negra Canyon: The Boca Negra Canyon 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 the 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 from 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

Hiking Trail Around Volcanic Cinder Cones

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 from sunrise to sunset. GPS Lat: 35.130817 Long: -106.780826

Other Attractions Near Petroglyph National Monument

Hiking a couple of trails in Petroglyph National Monument might very well take an entire day. But if you’re hiking the shorter Boca Negra Canyon trail, which you can complete within an hour, you can visit a few other attractions near Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque.

There are a few great things to do in Albuquerque, not too far from the Petroglyph National Monument, including Sandia Peak Tramway, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, and Albuquerque Museum.

There is a lot more to see in New Mexico, including several monuments and attractions outside Albuquerque, and you can find more details in my New Mexico Itinerary.

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Lodging & Dining Near Petroglyph National Monument

Lodging & Dining Near Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument is in Albuquerque, the largest city in New Mexico. You will find several lodging options in Albuquerque, including resorts, boutique hotels, and regular hotels.

I recommend staying in one of the Pueblo Revival / Pueblo style hotels to experience the unique and beautiful architecture.

Hotels Near Petroglyph National Monument

Sandia Resort: The Sandia Resort and Casino is the epitome of luxury in Albuquerque. The resort with a casino, golf course, spa, several dining options, and vibrant guestrooms decorated in southwestern style is a unique experience in itself!

Hotel Andaluz Albuquerque: Hotel Andaluz Albuquerque, a boutique hotel by Curio Collection by Hilton, with elegant guestrooms and lobby, is a great place to experience southwestern architecture and hospitality. The high rise hotel in downtown Albuquerque has a rooftop lounge and private dining in lobby casbahs. You can check other hotel amenities and book online on the Hotel Andaluz Albuquerque website.

Hotel Chaco: Hotel Chaco is a luxury hotel in Old Town Albuquerque, a unique blend of contemporary and traditional architecture. Hotel Chaco has a rooftop restaurant with beautiful views of the mountains and the city. You can check the hotel amenities and make your reservations online on the Hotel Chaco website.

Restaurants Near Petroglyph National Monument

There are several dining options in Albuquerque, and after hiking the trails in Petroglyph National Monument, I am sure you’ll be hungry! You will find several cuisines and choices, including chain restaurants, local restaurants, and specialty dining.

While there are other cuisines, I really loved the Mexican food in New Mexico. Though you will find Mexican food in every state in the US, the Mexican food in New Mexico was something different. The sauces and spices have an alluring taste, something I haven’t experienced anywhere else. My picks for best Mexican food in Albuquerque – Los Cuates, Cocina Azul, and Sadie’s of New Mexico.

Near Petroglyph National Monument, you will also find a great Italian place M’tucci’s Italian, American comfort food at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, and Japanese fare at Sakura Sushi and Grill.

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Petroglyph National Monument best guideI hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Petroglyph National Monument, and I hope this will help you plan your trip and pick the best hiking trail in Petroglyph National Monument.

Happy feeding your soul!

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