Knowing there were signs nearby for the Petroglyph National Monument, we set out yesterday to go hiking without getting directions or finding anything out beyond “it’s close, it’s a national monument, there are petroglyphs.. let’s go!”
So the first sign we saw said Boca Negra Canyon, and we turned there thinking it was the Petroglyph place, but when we got back in the canyon and nothing said “Petroglyph National Monument” we thought we’d went to the wrong place. So we continued on back down the main road until we hit the Petroglyph National Monument Visitor Center. There, after slathering on sunscreen and preparing a pack of water and snacks, we went inside to find out that there are no trails at the Visitor Center. There are 3 different areas where you can go to hike and see petroglyphs, and as it turns out Boca Negra Canyon is one of them, and is the most popular.
So, back to Boca Negra we went. Boca Negra only contains about 5% of all the petroglyphs in the monument, but the main trails are somewhat paved and there are restrooms and running water available (which if I’m not mistaken is not the case at the other two locations). Archaelogists believe that some of the petroglyphs date back at least 3000 years, although most of them (estimated 90%) are from around 1200-1700 A.D. The hike was pretty easy with lots of visible petroglyphs and great views. I think we spent about an hour and a half total including walking down to the lower area and then walking back up to our car.
I think Boca Negra is a great introduction to the Petroglyphs because there are several short, fairly easy hikes (ranging from 15-45 minutes), and again they are mostly paved, and restrooms are available. So a good plan for families and/or people that aren’t used to strenuous hikes. Just remember to bring the $2 for parking so you don’t have to walk all the way downhill and back up again, unless you want that extra part of the trip 😉 I also recommend starting at the Visitor Center because the Rangers are very helpful and can provide trail maps and information about which trails are the most helpful.
Today, I am crossing my fingers hoping that we take the tramway to Sandia Peak!