I got lucky! No – not that kind of lucky. I had some fantastic guests last year that left me their photo’s from their trip to the Petroglyphs. That’s guest love!!!! We get lucky like that at our Albuquerque Bed and Breakfast. I don’t know why. Sometimes they send us pictures they took of our b&b, and that is fantastic. Sometimes we get their pictures of us – not so fantastic. I suppose you have to take the good with the bad, but I digress, so on to the Albuquerque Petroglyphs.
Petra – meaning rock (Greek), and glyph – meaning carving (Greek), or a visual representation of a letter, character, or symbol. A petroglyph is rock art. I have always thought of petroglyphs, cave paintings and the like to be graffiti of sorts left by ancient people. That is just my personal take, because I have never really researched it. I also think that the people in tribes were each gifted in different areas just as we are today, and perhaps some who were more artistically inclined left us their renderings of objects and scenes from their ancient lives. Why they chose the hard volcanic rocks on the west mesa above the Rio Grande flood plain is the question in my mind. Perhaps these drawings are the only ones in the area that have stood the test of time and weather. It’s not an easy task to pick into that hard rock. It takes both diligence and tenacity. I wonder if they used other mediums as well such as shale, limestone and the like, and then discovered their pictures would not last on these softer rocks.
The west mesa above our city holds the remnants of five extinct volcanic cores. The Rio Grande Valley is a class five fault line, (part of the Rio Grande Rift). It’s not much of a threat to anyone because of it’s constant motion and releasing pressure. The Rio Grande runs deep underground, (lubricating the fault), and it has been flowing for a very long time. The Rio Grande flood plain was so wide in the past, (even as recently as the early 20th century), that the inhabitants of this valley had to move to high ground during the runoff of the spring flood season.
Perhaps the ancients had more time on their hands during this season and that is when the art was created. Again…this is my take on it all. You should visit these sites when staying in Albuquerque. We always try to steer our Adobe Nido Bed and Breakfast guests to this attraction when they are visiting this area. It is a great place to hike and the view overlooking our city and the Sandia Mountains is wonderful.
There are several petroglyph sites on the West Mesa surrounding the volcano cliffs. Our Federal Government saw fit to claim some of the land and have created Petroglyph National Monument. The city has also used tax money to secure preservation of some of the land as Albuquerque Open Space. All of it is accessible by the public. Don’t be fooled by all the homes in the area. They sit right on the edge of these protected areas, and some people are lucky enough to see petroglyphs right from their own back yards.
Enjoy these photos. I have shown only a fraction of what there is to see out there. This is a perfect time of year to go out and explore the Petroglyphs. There are several areas to visit in Petroglyph National Monument.
• Piedras Marcadas Canyon provides trails to ancient petroglyphs.
• Boca Negra Canyon has three trails leading to ancient petroglyphs.
• Rinconada Canyon has a 1.3 mile trail leading to ancient petroglyphs.
• Volcanoes – the remains of five extinct volcanic cores.
It’s best to stop at the Visitor Center to get trail maps and other interesting information about the area. It is only a short drive to Petroglyph National Monument from our Albuquerque Bed and Breakfast in the North Valley, see my Google map for location and directions.
I know the best things to do in Albuquerque!
Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed and Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!