Sitting on the far western edge of Albuquerque is the Petroglyph National Monument, a place I have been meaning to visit, and finally did this past weekend. This National Monument is interesting in that it is jointly run by the National Park Service and the City of Albuquerque (though, apparently, not very well) and showcases, well, petroglyphs – over 25,000 of them.
First stop was the visitor’s center to get the lowdown on the different areas (four total, with one currently closed for trail restoration) and then I was quickly back in the car to hit the first stop. Boca Negra Canyon is the only part of the Monument that charges a fee (courtesy of the City of Albuquerque), but is also the most highly visited. This area offers three paved, fairly short trails that give easy access to view petroglyphs. I beat the crowds by arriving early. It does pay to get one’s butt out of bed early, unless you are a lover of crowds (which I am not).
Back in the car, I was off to the second stop about three miles away – Piedras Marcadas Canyon. Here I wandered around for a couple of miles on the sandy trails and up the hillsides, exploring the petroglyphs. Very few people were wandering around, despite being in an area of many housing developments. Of course, hundreds of years ago when the petroglyphs were being created, housing developments weren’t exactly an issue.
Once again I was driving to another destination – the third and final one. Eight miles later I was at the Volcanoes, which are in the far west section of the Monument. While there are no petroglyphs in this area, there are the inactive volcanoes responsible for the volcanic rocks that the petroglyphs are carved into.
There are five volcanoes in the Monument, but only three are accessible. Called the Three Sisters, I covered a little over 3 miles hiking around the ladies. You are not supposed to hike to the top of the volcanoes as the native people believe that doing so desecrates this sacred landscape. But I am sure there have been plenty of non-natives that have gone to the top. This white guy, however, did not.
Petroglyph National Monument gives you a great opportunity to check out hundreds of Petroglyphs as well as the barren landscape around the volcanoes that are easily viewable to the west from all points in the ABQ. Definitely a great way to spend a few hours, get baked by the sun, and enjoy a bit of the past.