About the SitePetroglyph National Monument was established to protect a variety of natural and cultural resources, including archeological sites, volcanos, and about 20,000 carved images. Many of these images can be recognized as natural features such as animals, people, crosses and brands, but many of them are more complex and are not completely understood. It has become clear that these images cannot be separated from the landscape around them, and were created by people to enhance their culture and their beliefs. Those who created the petroglyphs include ancestral Puebloans, Hispanic sheepherders, and early settlers.
What You're Going to SeeApparently, lots of black volcanic rock. Lots of black rock, with some scrub bushes growing between. Beautiful this ain't, but that's not why we come here. We come here for the prehistoric drawings, or rather peckings, left on these rocks by the natives who lived here hundreds of years ago. There are many trails you can take, of varying length and difficulty; all will show you petroglyphs left on the rock. Some of the trails overlook the valley in which lies Albuquerque, which is an interesting view.
Personal ObservationsIt was a beautiful day in Albuquerque when I dragged my family to Petroglyph. I had a sneaky feeling that this site wouldn't really thrill them, so we first went to the Visitors Center where a special presentation was under way. Apparently, the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary is nearby, and on the day we went a docent brought a live wolf to the Center. The wolf was very quiet and well-behaved while we watched; the kids who wanted to, and who were brave enough (Luke!), actually got close enough to pet him while the docent lectured us on wolf pack behavior and the difference between dogs, wolves, and coyotes. All in all it was a worthwhile visit to the Center, we thought, except for my wife. She doesn't care much for dogs, much less wolves. Thanks, Tinker.
Getting ThereIn Albuquerque, take I-40 west to exit 154. Go north on Unser Boulevard for a little more than three miles, to Western Trail. Turn west and you'll immediately enter Monument land, and the Visitor Center is a short drive along the road.
Nearby AttractionsAbout 50 miles north northeast is Bandelier National Monument. 60 miles to the northeast is Pecos National Historical Park. 100 miles to the east northeast is Ft. Union National Memorial. 50 miles to the south southeast is Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. 70 miles to the west is El Malpais National Monument, and 30 miles more lies El Morro National Monument. 100 miles to the northwest is Chaco Canyon National Historic Park.