One of the largest petroglyph sites in North America can be found in Albuquerque at Petroglyph National Monument. There, you can see images carved out by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago.
I think it’s always fascinating to witness historically significant sites up close and personal, and the fact that designs and symbols carved centuries ago are still available for us to see immediately piqued my interest so I allocated some time to go there.
I was on a bit of a time crunch when I went, but before exploring I first made a quick stop at the visitor’s center. One of the rangers there told me that the Mesa Point Trail at Boca Negra Canyon takes just a little over an hour to complete, so I opted to do that one. There are about 100 petroglyphs on volcanic rocks viewable on the the Boca Negra Canyon Trails (there are three – Mesa Point, Macaw and Cliff Base).
The Mesa Point trail involves gradual incline and isn’t too strenuous if you take your time. On the way up, once you hit 1 mile above sea level, you can catch a nice view of the Rio Grande Valley and the Sandia Mountains.
There are also some side trails along the way where you can take a brief detour to see other petroglyphs. I’d estimate that one of the side trails was about 30 feet while the other was maybe 12 feet. At the end of those short trails, you can look up and to the side to see additional petroglpyhs.
The Boca Negra Canyon Trail is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There’s a nominal parking fee of $1 on weekdays and $2 on weekends. There’s a parking lot right just several feet away from the trailhead with 12 slots.
Petroglyph National Monument is a must-see in Albuquerque, no matter what amount of time you have to spare!