Protecting one of North America’s largest petroglyph sites, Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico showcases designs and symbols carved into volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400-700 years ago. Located along Albuquerque's West Mesa, the monument includes 7,236 acres where visitors can view images that are an important record of cultural expression and that have great spiritual significance for Native Americans and those who descended from the early Spanish settlers.
Images within the monument include animals, people, and crosses, along with some that are more complex. It is believed that the monument includes about 24,000 different images. The monument also protects natural resources, including five volcanic cones and is divided into four major sites that can be accessed by those who visit; Boca Negra Canyon, Rinconada Canyon, Piedras Marcadas Canyon and the Volcano Day Use trails.
Petroglyph National Monument offers visitors the chance to look through a window into the area’s history and culture, as well as opportunities for recreation and to take in the beauty of the area, all within easy access of a major city.
From downtown Albuquerque, travel on I40 W for 2.7 miles to Exit 155 for Coors Blvd N. Merge onto Coors Blvd N and continue for 1.8 miles. You will turn left onto Western Trail Northwest. Follow Western Trail Northwest to Petroglyph National Monument.
Parking is available within Petroglyph National Monument
While there is no public transportation to the Petroglyph National Monument, the city bus will take you to Coors at St. Josephs, from where you can walk 1.1 miles to arrive at the National Monument.
Within 25 miles from Petroglyph National Monument, you'll find options for camping with your RV. Sites are located close to the Rio Grande. Views of the river are accompanied by unobstructed views of the Sandia Mountains.
Next to the campground is the Coronado State Monument, which includes various artifacts. Here you can camp in tents, trailers and RV’s and water and electrical hookups are available. Toilets and showers are also present at the campground.
Located a little under 80 miles from Petroglyph National forest is Joe Skeen Campground, which is in the El Malpais National Conservation Area. There are 10 campsites that are available on a first-come first served and free of charge.
RV’s and trailers of up to 50 feet can be accommodated and sites offer a picnic table and fire grill. Two pit toilets are available at the campground. From the campground, you can easily explore El Malpais National Monument as well as El Malpais Recreation Area before or after your visit to Petroglyph National Monument. This quiet campground is an excellent place to relax between outdoor adventures.
Petroglyph National Monument has three different trails that offer the opportunity for you to view petroglyphs. For example, hiking along the one-mile Boca Negra Canyon trail will allow you to encounter up to 100 petroglyphs and the Rinconada Canyon trail (a 2.2-mile loop) offers the chance to view up to 300 petroglyphs.
A walk in this national monument to view the petroglyphs will not only offer you fresh air, some exercise, and beautiful scenery, but the opportunity to experience the culture and history of the area.
A ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway can easily be worked into your day when visiting the Petroglyph National Monument. Passengers of the tramway ride in cable cars for about three miles along a cable that is suspended between the foothills of eastern Albuquerque and the summit of Sandia Peak at 10,378 feet.
From the cable car, you can take in views of the city as well as of the mountains below you. Upon reaching the top, you can enjoy views for up to 11,000 square miles. Hiking trails are available at the peak, allowing you to explore the wilderness before grabbing a ride back down the tramway. The tram runs daily and hours depend on the season.
At the western edge of the monument is the Volcanoes Day Use Area, which includes a trail system within which you can enjoy miles of hiking around the volcanic cinder cones. Not only can use get up close to the cones, but you can experience excellent views of the Rio Grande valley and the Sandia Mountains from a scenic overlook.
Choose from trails ranging from one to four miles round trip. Vault toilets are available and the parking lot is open from 9am to 5pm daily. Make sure to bring along water as there is none available.
Petroglyph National Monument has a visitor center that you can check out at any time during your visit. Within the center is a small display about the park, a WNPA Park Store, and an information desk where you can get information and ask questions about what things you can do in the park during your visit. There is also a 22-minute film that you can view to learn more about the monument and the petroglyphs.
The Old Town in Albuquerque is a great place to explore before or after your trip to Petroglyph National Monument. The site of the original city settlement in 1706, Old Town is about six miles west of downtown and has been shaped by both Native American and Spanish cultures.
A central plaza is surrounded by cobblestone streets with adobe huts housing galleries, restaurants and souvenir shops. You can wander around Old Town, take a tour, or stop by for a meal.
The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is “the gateway to the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico”, offering exhibits, cultural events, dining, and shopping. Rotating exhibits can be found in the Center’s South Gallery, and there is also a permanent exhibit. Expect to learn about the legacy of the Pueblo People’s resilience, using the words and voices of the Pueblo People. Spend as long as you like exploring the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and learning about the history and culture of the Pueblo people of New Mexico.