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Petroglyph National Monument and Boca Negra Canyon, Albuquerque

Petroglyph National Monument and Boca Negra Canyon, Albuquerque

The very first thing I do when I plan a trip is sit down and plot out the National Park Sites.  That is especially true in the Southwest.  There is a lot of very beautiful and historic publicly owned land!

Unfortunately, our Albuquerque visit for the Balloon Fiesta coincided with the government shutdown in October of 2013. That meant National Park Sites were closed.  No detour to Fort Union or Bandelier National Monuments were going to happen during this trip.

Boca Negra Canyon was an exception. This portion of Petroglyph National Monument is co-managed with the city of Albuquerque and remained opened.

After a morning of watching hot air balloons, we took a ride over to Boca Negra Canyon and spent some time being transported back in history.  In Petroglyph National Monument there are an impressive 24,000 petroglyph images carved by Pueblo people and early Spanish settlers.

It is an important site to give the kids an understanding of relics left behind of an ancient civilization within our borders.  They had a great time looking at the petroglyphs, trying to identify animals and people, and speculating on their meanings.

People Petroglyphs National Monument New Mexico Albuquerque

What You Need to Know About Visiting Boca Negra Canyon and Petroglyph National Monument

  • Petroglyphs in Boca Negra Canyon Plan for a few hours. There are relatively easy hikes available, and it is a great place to spend the morning.
  • Some of the “hikes” are merely “viewing trails.”  I might call them sidewalks next to petroglyphs.  However it is nice to know that you can still get a good view if you are unable to hike or pushing a stroller.
  • The Mesa Point trail in Boca Negra Canyon is worthwhile and gives a great view in addition to the visible petroglyphs.
  • There is no charge to go into Petroglyph NM, but there is a nominal ($2 or less) fee per car into Boca Negra Canyon.  So very worth it, but if you have the “America the Beautiful” parks pass, there is no charge.
  • There are rattlesnakes in this part of the world.  Exercise normal caution.
Mesa Point view in Boca Negra Canyon Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon

One lone balloon in the sky viewed from Mesa Point

From the National Park Service about the Meaning Behind Petroglyphs

The context of each image is extremely important and integral to its meaning. Note each petroglyph’s orientation to the horizon and surrounding images, as well as the landscape in which it sits. Today’s native people have stated that the placement of each petroglyph image was not a casual or random decision.Some petroglyphs have meanings that are only known to the individuals who made them. Others represent tribal, clan, kiva or society markers. Some are religious entities and others show who came to the area and where they went. Some petroglyphs still have contemporary meaning, while the meaning of others is no longer known, but are respected for belonging to “those who came before.”While viewing these petroglyph images, please consider their importance to both past and present cultures.

View of Boca Negra Canyon from Mesa Point

Petroglyphs on top of Mesa Point

Where is Boca Negra Canyon and Petroglyph National Monument

Website : Petroglyph National Monument

Disclosure – While in Albuquerque, our family was guests of the Albuquerque CVB, but we paid the $1 admission ourselves.

  1. 8 Attractions in New Mexico that You Probably Haven't Visited Yet - guide2travel.ca 30 January, 2017

    […] for all who come after. What meaning will you find in the carvings on the black volcanic rocks? Boca Negra Canyon is home to the more than 20,000 petroglyphs along the volcanic escarpment making it one of the […]