Petroglyph National Monument: A Toasty Stroll

Petroglyph National monument

Entrance to Rinconada Canyon

Petroglyph National Monument is a low key destination.   It lies on the western edge of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with a visitors center and four separate areas to explore: Rinconada Canyon, Boca Negra Canyon, Piedras Maracadas,  and Volcanoes.   The latter does not actually have any petroglyphs, but hey, three volcanoes!

Kilroy was here

Kilroy was here, perhaps?

Rinconada Canyon, with a parking lot just off Unser Blvd NW a couple miles north of I-40, seemed the most convenient spot for a walkabout. There is a decent bathroom at the parking lot, and a barrier prevented vehicles from going on the trail.   Right away, the heat makes itself known, as if to say, “Hello, pale people from the north; I will toast you now.”  We slather on sunscreen and tote water.   I wish I had a hat.

Looking back toward the parking area

Looking back toward the parking area

The canyon is really more of a vee-shaped plain, gently sloping, with ramparts on the outer edge of the vee covered in basalt boulders.  Cacti and sage and broken glass dot the flatter land.  Apparently locals formerly used Rinconada Canyon for target shooting before the area was protected.

Hot hot hot

Hot hot hot: D and Jackie Chan following

Denise and Jackie Chan the wonderdog do an about face after about half a mile when they realizes the pictures are mostly similar same, and it’s getting bloody hot.  I can’t blame them, but I soldier on for a bit.   One smart hiker carries an umbrella as sun shield.   There is certainly no respite from the sun, and there is no water on the trail.

Larger than most of the images

Larger than most of the imagesiveivel

The trail hugs the right slope near the rocks.  Petroglyphs seem to come in clumps on large rocks in little alcoves at the base of the canyon walls..   Mostly the images are simple and relatively small, such as dessert-plate sized birds, human faces, and deer.  Scientists do not know exactly what all if the petroglyphs mean, but it is interesting to speculate.

Don't come barefoot.  Only cacti thrive here

Don’t come barefoot. Only cacti thrive here!

Rinconada Canyon offers a harsh landscape for hikers, but one worth visiting for its geologic and human history.  Consider going in the cooler hours of  the day.

Some of the images are hard to decipher

Some of the images are hard to decipher.  Sun? Centipede? Who knows?

About Josh Baker

"The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” ― John Muir

Posted on August 4, 2013, in Adventure, Desert, General Hiking, Hiking with dogs, Historical sites, Outdoors, Travel, vacations and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Reminds me of a hike I took above the treeline in Glacier one summer. It was in the mid-90’s, and we didn’t pack nearly enough water.
    Does Jackie Chan wear shoes on these hot hikes?

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