Petroglyph National Monument

The view from JA Volcano
The view from JA Volcano

The weather was so beautiful here in Albuquerque New Mexico (sunny and temps in the 40’s) that we decided not to travel yesterday.  Instead we took advantage of the gorgeous weather to explore Petroglyph National Monument.

Petroglyph National Monument is located on the west side of the ridges that surround Albuquerque.  There are six dormant volcanoes along the ridge, and their eruptions 200,000 years ago created the 17 mile ridge and left basalt lava.  The Pueblo people traveled along the Rio Grande valley 800 to 500 years ago and left “calling cards” carved on the basalt boulders along the ridge.

The petroglyphs made us think of graffiti or drawings made by children.  Some of the designs are very fanciful and others are more utilitarian.  Historians who have studied the petroglyphs believe they helped give directions and let people know who (at least what tribe) had passed by the area.  There are over 10,000 petroglyphs in three areas in the monument, many of which are visible from the trails along the ridge.

Three of the volcanoes not along the hiking trails
Vulcan Volcano
Some basalt boulders
Tom heading to the top of JA Volcano
The area west of the volcanoes – parking lot in the distance
A fence and sign in between Vulcan and Black Volcanoes

Our favorite part of the Monument was the volcanoes.  Who knew New Mexico had volcanoes?  The hiking trail in that part of the Monument circled or climbed three of the volcanoes and we hiked loops around each of them.  We were treated to some awesome views of the valley.  From the top we could see all of Albuquerque.  Hiking up and down was a little slick with the basalt pebbles but it gave me an excuse to hang on to Tom.

The ridge and the eastern parts of the Petroglyph National Monument are in Albuquerque and houses butt up against the Monument fences.  But this also means that people use the trails and explore the petroglyphs. One of the trails began behind a little shopping center and continued beside a housing development before we got out to the ridge with the petroglyphs.

It was good to spend a day hiking at Petroglyph National Monument.  We needed the break from traveling and from all the gray, cold weather we have had.  The sunshine felt wonderful, we learned a little bit, and we exercised some different muscles.