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Petroglyph National Monument

Regular readers might remember that I love Petroglyphs.  So, when I saw that the Petroglyph National Monument was on our route home, I decided that we should stop in Albuquerque for the night and tour the petroglyphs in the morning.  

I’ll have to admit that I questioned that decision when we got into Albuquerque because we ran into not one, but two, major accidents.  In the first accident, a lone car was sitting in the middle lane of a very dark freeway missing most of its frontend.  There wasn’t a wrecker, policeman, or accident vehicle in sight, just cars veering at the last minute to avoid the car and driver.  We had barely got past that accident as cars whizzed by before running into an even bigger traffic jam.  When we finally got to the scene of the accident we realized that all the policemen and rescue vehicles were at the scene of this accident, and multiple cars littered the road.  Apparently New Mexico drivers don’t know how to drive in the rain.  

Undeterred, we got up early the next morning and got to the park headquarters just as it opened.  There we discovered that it would take at least a full day if not two full days to visit all the petroglyph sites.  We ended up visiting just one site both because of time limits and because of multiple warnings not to leave valuables in the car.  All of the sites were in remote areas and there were few cars around.  I really didn’t want to leave $6,000 in camera equipment, not to mention iPads and computers in the car while we hiked two or three hours to a remote site.  On our next visit, I will plan to spend two nights and leave our valuables in the motel while we visit petroglyphs.

We ended up visiting Boca Negra Canyon where you had to scramble up a rocky hill to observe most of the petroglyphs.  Turned out I didn’t have to worry about leaving the car because it was visible throughout the walk, but, even more importantly, because Leslie didn’t want to scamper across the rocks to reach petroglyphs near the top.

I’ll have to admit that I had some second thoughts myself when I spotted the photo at the beginning of the hike warning about rattlesnakes, not to mention the petroglyph near the top of the hike that conveyed the same warning even more clearly.

In the end, though, I couldn’t believe rattlesnakes would be out as cold as it was so I climbed the rocky hill to the top while huffing and puffing. Climbing the slope at 5,300 feet of altitude was a little more difficult than I had anticipated, but luckily there were so many petroglyphs to photograph that I got to rest and catch my breath quite often..  

I’ll have to admit that I don’t think I’ve seen petroglyphs like those at the beginning of the trail, and the guide I bought at the visitor’s center didn’t seem to identify the style, either.

This rock seemed much more familiar, reminding me of Newspaper Rock near Canyonlands in Utah. 

It is speculated that these kinds of petroglyphs cover a broad period of time rather than having been completed in a single period. It’s hard to grasp that some of these petroglyphs could have been written as early as 5000 BC to AD 300.  Not sure why I like petroglyphs so much, but I suspect it is because they seem to transcend time by tying us to a particular place and that feeling is reinforced when you spot a petroglyph of the Mourning Dove that greeted you on the parking lot fence when you pulled in.  

2 replies on “Petroglyph National Monument”

I’ve only been in Albuquerque once in my life, and I still remember it as some of the worst traffic I’ve ever driven in. I wonder if we both had bad luck, or if that’s just a feature there?

I saw a few fragments of Petroglyphs at Mesa Verde, but don’t remember seeing anything as dramatic and identifiable as what you shared. It’s hard to fathom something so old, yet so recognizable.

Well, the lady at the motel did say that Albuquerque drivers were awful in the rain, but I’m assuming you weren’t there in the rain.

There’s actually a lot of places in Pueblo and Navaho country that have petroglyphs. I keep collecting possible places to visit when we are on our way to other places.

What do you think?

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