New Mexico May 03, 2017
9 Trails In New Mexico That Will Lead You Straight To Ancient Petroglyphs
When we think of hiking, we often focus on escaping into nature. Although many of these paths offer panoramic views, they are primarily fascinating because they lead to petroglyphs. Walk back in time and study rock art, to discover how people from the past viewed our world.
1. Rinconada Canyon, Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque
Petroglyph National Monument contains one of biggest petroglyph collections in North America. It is divided into sections and Rinconada Canyon is a rewarding hike because it allows you to see 300 pieces of rock art along a 2.2-mile trail. In terms of difficulty, this is an easy to moderate walk. The trailhead is at Unser Boulevard NW and St. Joseph Avenue in Albuquerque.
2. Piedras Marcadas Canyon, Petroglyph National Monument
This is one of the few petroglyph hikes were leashed pets are permitted. You - and Fido - can admire 400 petroglyphs along this easy to moderate 1.5 mile hike (round trip). The trailhead is located off Golf Course Road at Jill Patricia Street, in Albuquerque.
3. Boca Negra, Petroglyph National Monument
There are three short trails in this section of the monument. Your best bet is to do them all but, if you just pick one, make it the Mesa Point Trail. Scramble up a switchback route, to the top of a petroglyph-packed hill. Admire the rock art along the way and the views from the top. This trail can get pretty busy at times, so it’s not the ideal destination if you’re seeking solitude. Address: 6001 Unser Boulevard NW, Albuquerque.
4. Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, Tularosa
There are 21,000 petroglyphs scattered throughout this valley and no, that’s not a typo! The site contains two short trails (totaling about a mile combined) that lead to an incredibly diverse array of rock art created by the Jornada Mogollon. These petroglyphs are located at 455 Three Rivers Road in Tularosa.
5. Una Vida, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Nageezi
The ruins at Una Vida are some of the oldest at Chaco and viewing them involves a roughly one-mile, round trip hike. Once at your destination, clamber a little further to see a petroglyph panel. The trailhead is located close to the visitor center.
6. Petroglyph Trail, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Nageezi
Most people who visit Chaco, explore both Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Ketl. A 0.25-mile long Petroglyph Trail connects the two places and, although that doesn’t involve much exertion, you’ll get plenty of exercise at both locations.
For directions to Chaco.
7. Main Loop Trail, Bandelier National Monument, near White Rock
This 1.2-mile trail is a must if you’re going to Bandelier because it hits the highlights of the monument. It also takes you to the Long House, which has hundreds of petroglyphs.
For more info.
8. Tsankawi, Bandelier National Monument, near White Rock
Tsankawi is separate from the main part of Bandelier but it’s worth the effort to find it. Hike 1.5-miles round trip and discover petroglyphs, along with kivas, and the remains of a village. Be prepared to climb ladders on this trail.
For more directions.
9. La Cieneguilla, Santa Fe
Few know that there’s a petroglyph hike near the Santa Fe Airport. While the trail starts off gently, reaching the rock art requires a climb up a fairly steep slope. The petroglyph – and mountain – views from the top make this worthwhile. This hike is roughly 1.3 miles each way, but you arrive at the first petroglyphs before that so you can shorten the journey if necessary. The trailhead is on Airport Road in Santa Fe – keep going until you think you’ve missed it, then drive a little more!
Many of these hikes lack shade, so bring a hat and water, and slather on that sunscreen. Petroglyph trails tend to be rocky and may involve a little climbing, so wear decent hiking shoes. For good measure, bring a pair of binoculars so you can get a good look at the less accessible rock art. (It shouldn’t have to be said, but please do not deface the artwork.)
Which petroglyph trail do you want to explore most?
You may also be interested in these
New Mexico hikes that lead to ancient ruins or in Inscription Rock – a spot that travelers have graffitied for centuries!