petroglypth national monument front gate visitors center
Front Gate To Petroglyph National Monument Visitor Center

The Petroglyphs National Monument presents a unique environment where one can explore the past of the Pueblo peoples and enjoy a great hike in the process. The sites are broken into three separate trails. Each of them shows different petroglyphs and varies in size and type. Some can be seen up close and others require a keen eye. These glyphs are the product of people from thousands to hundreds of years ago understanding that removing the thin top layer of volcanic rock will leave a white presence against a black distinct background.

Top hiking trails in Albuquerque

Some of the best Alburquerque hiking trails are within this area of petroglyphs and make up the Petroglyph National Monument and trail system. These trails are short and fairly easy to complete, and the time of year is what will determine how far you can hike, and what you can do in the hotter times of the year.

Petroglyph National Monument
Visitor Center of Petroglyph National Monument
desert flowers blooming at the petroglyph national monument
Desert flowers blooming at the Petroglyph National Monument visitor center.

At certain times of the year, the bushes and cactuses bloom with bright colors of yellow, purple, and other enjoyable colors. The visitor center is a good spot to notice the plants of this area, but in a pristine environment where water is plentiful.

Each trail location is detailed with questions people might ask and the GPS coordinates to each location.

The Petroglyph Trails

Boca Negra Canyon Petroglyphs

GPS Lat: 35.161 GPS Long: -106.719

petroglyph national monument black mountain

Some FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) hikers and visitors to this area ask.

Common questions about the trail:

What time does the Boca Negra Canyon trail open?

The trail opens at 08:30 am and closes at 4:30 pm daily.

How many petroglyphs can I see on the Boca Negra Canyon trail?

You can see up to 100 petroglyphs.

How long is the Boca Negra canyon trail?

Short walks of about 1/2 mile for a total time of 1 hour in duration.

Boca Negra canyon trail Best alburquerque hiking trails
Boca Negra Canyon trail Best Albuquerque hiking trails
Boca Negra canyon trail informational board
Boca Negra Canyon trail informational board.

The black mountain is basically a small hill with a large number of petroglyphs around it all the way to the top. This particular trail is well maintained and easy to get to from the main road. There are times when the trail is just large rocks that you must climb over or go around. To complete this trail you follow the signs and make sure to veer right in order to take the longer route that will allow you to see a petroglyph or two up close.

petroglyph of human at petroglyph national park

The glyph here seems to represent more of the life of the Pueblo peoples and less of the agriculture aspects that were critical to their survival. Ancestral worship was not uncommon and this image could represent anyone past or present from the time it was completed.

Rinconada Canyon Petroglyphs

Rinconada Canyon Petroglyphs
Rinconada Canyon Petroglyphs

GPS Lat: 35.127 GPS Long: -106.725

Common questions about the trail:

What are the hours of operation for the Rinconada Canyon trail?

Rinconada Canyon Parking Lot Hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily.

Are pets allowed on this trail?

Leashed dogs/pets are not allowed on the petroglyph viewing section of this trail.

black volcanic rock used to carve petroglyphs
The black volcanic rock was used to carve petroglyphs.
petroglyph rocks carved by the Pueblo peoples.
Petroglyph rocks were carved by the Pueblo peoples.

This second trail is within distance and has ease of access, and is within the open desert surrounding a much shorter but wider hill complex. The trail is very sandy, and the conditions are similar to the hot open desert that has preserved these petroglyphs for hundreds and maybe in some cases thousands of years. I found the grazing animals to be the most interesting. This would allude to the pueblo people grazing animals, and having a more sophisticated agriculture lifestyle.

Piedras Marcadas Canyon

Piedras Marcadas Canyon Trail
Piedras Marcadas Canyon Trail

GPS Lat: 35.1887 GPS Long: -106.6856

Common questions about the trail:

What are the hours of access to the Piedras Marcadas Canyon trail?

Open daily sunrise to sunset.

The parking area is well kept and has no gate that closes. So if for some reason you run late your car will hopefully still be there and not locked inside until morning.

Piedras Marcadas Canyon Trail Map
Piedras Marcadas Canyon Trail Map

This map shows the simple trail with four different locations where larger groups of petroglyphs are present or ones that are easy to see. I have included a few here to give you an idea of what to expect.

Humanoid Petroglyth Piedras Marcadas Canyon Trail
Humanoid Petroglyth Piedras Marcadas Canyon Trail

Here are some petroglyphs along the trail showing what I think are people, and an animal. Keep in mind that some of these can go from hundreds to a few thousand showing animals that no longer exist.

Hands and animals of Petroglyth Piedras Marcadas Canyon Trail
Hands and animals of Petroglyph Piedras Marcadas Canyon Trail

Throughout time we see the hand being used as the universal symbol of “Hi I was here”. We also see what I think might be a horned toad lizard.

City view of Albuquerque, NM Hands and animals of Petroglyth Piedras Marcadas Canyon Trail
City view of Albuquerque, NM Piedras Marcadas Canyon Trail

Petroglyphs National Monument Trail System Feedback

As you can see from all three of these trails that make up the Petroglyph National Monument they are a part of the Albuquerque national parks system that surrounds the area. All of these are day hikes that allow you to go back to your hotel room and rest before being back in the morning for several more hikes. Each petroglyph is a symbol of the people who once lived here, and a form of communication to people of the future. Their ancestors would also be something they would have wanted to exalt in some form, and this chipping away of the top black layer of volcanic rock.

Petroglyph National Monument

Volcanoes Day Use Area

GPS Lat: 35.1306 GPS Long: -106.7803

Petroglyph National Monument-Volcanoes Day Hiking Trails
Petroglyph National Monument-Volcanoes Day Hiking Trails

These trails show the unique geography and geological remnants of these extinct volcanoes. These trails are on the short side and several can be done in a day. Keep the time of day in mind and plan your clothing, hiking gear, and water, food snacks, and sunscreen.

Three Sisters Volcanoes Petroglyph National Monument.
Three Sisters Volcanoes Petroglyph National Monument.

Map of the Volcano Trails

Volcano Day Use Area Trail System Map
Volcano Day Use Area Trail System Map – Courtesy of the NPS & Petroglyph National Monument Website.

Common questions about the trails:

Map of the trails at the Volcanoes Day Use Area.

What are the hours of access?

Parking lot hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.

Can I enter the park after hours?

Yes before or after-hours access is permitted by parking outside of the gated parking lot.

Can we bring pets into the par?

Leashed pets/dogs are allowed. A maximum leash length of 6 feet is strictly enforced. Owners must pick up all dog waste and carry it out to a trash can.

Volcanoes Trail petroglyph national monument
Volcanoes Trail Petroglyph National Monument

Volcanoes Trail

How far is the Volcanoes trail?

Distance: About 3 1/2 miles round trip loop from the parking lot to the JA Volcano and around the Vulcan Volcano back to the parking lot.
Difficulty: easy to moderate

Resting area along the Volcanoes Trail Petroglyph National Monument
Resting area along with the Volcanoes Trail Petroglyph National Monument

The entire trail starts at the parking lot and goes past the JA Volcano to the scenic overlook, up to the Vulcan Volcano, and back to the parking lot, with sweeping views of Albuquerque and the Rio Grande Valley throughout.


JA Volcano and the Albuquerque Overlook

Albuquerque Overlook along the Volcanoes Trail Petroglyph National Monument
Albuquerque Overlook along with the Volcanoes Trail Petroglyph National Monument
How far is the JA Volcano and Albuquerque Overlook trail?

Distance: 1 mile round trip from the parking lot to scenic overlook and back.
Difficulty: easy

This sub-section of the trail departs from the parking lot and heads east to a scenic view of the Rio Grande Valley, Albuquerque, and the Sandia Mountains. You will have to turn around the way you came back to the parking lot to complete it. This trail has two shaded rest areas with benches.


Vulcan Volcano Loop

Vulcan Volcano Loop Trail
Vulcan Volcano Loop Trail
How long is the Vulcan Volcano Loop hike?

Distance: 2 miles from the north side of the parking lot around Vulcan Volcano and back.
Difficulty: moderate

The entire trail starts at the parking lot and goes past the JA Volcano to the scenic overlook, up to the Vulcan Volcano, and back to the parking lot, with sweeping views of Albuquerque and the Rio Grande Valley throughout.

JA Volcano and the Albuquerque Overlook

How long are the JA Volcano and the Albuquerque Overlook hike?

Distance: 1 mile round trip from the parking lot to scenic overlook and back.
Difficulty: easy

This sub-section of the trail departs from the parking lot and heads east to a scenic view of the Rio Grande Valley, Albuquerque, and the Sandia Mountains. You will have to turn around the way you came back to the parking lot to complete it. This trail has two shaded rest areas with benches.

Vulcan Volcano Petroglyph National Monument
Vulcan Volcano Petroglyph National Monument

This sub-section of the trail can be found by going to the north side of the main parking lot near the gate. The trail along the eastern base of Vulcan is difficult to find but do not give up. A gradual incline up the east side of Vulcan leads to a level, mini-volcanic valley on Vulcan’s north side. Continue on the trail and go left (south) when you approach the ‘Y’ on the northwest side of Vulcan. At next ‘Y’ go left again for an up-close look at this well-preserved cinder cone. Follow the trail down, continuing south on the old road which leads back to the parking lot.

Conclusion

If you would like to learn more about this great national monument and what the National Park Service is doing to study and maintain the sites consider visiting their website here. National Park Service Website The Albuquerque area is home to many areas the adventure travel enthusiast would enjoy no matter what the time of year. Next, you are in this area of New Mexico United States consider these day hikes and some of the suggestions for the area below.

Are you interested in other areas surrounding Albuquerque New Mexico, and having a continuous hiking adventure. If so then please continue to read the FAQs below and visit some of our other New Mexico trips such as our new article on the Bandelier National Monument.

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Where can I hike around Albuquerque?

There are several places and the Petroglyph National Monument has several short day hikes. The Elena Gallegos Picnic Area offers great trails that connect to the National forest. See video here https://youtu.be/85vbdy9CQ_M

Is Albuquerque good for hiking?

Yes, and depending on the time of year you can hike in the mornings or during the day when others are snowed in.

What’s the name of the mountains in Albuquerque?

The Sandia Mountains.

Are there mountains in Albuquerque?

The Sandia Mountains provide great hiking and photography opportunities.

How many hikes are in Albuquerque?

We have been on ten separate hikes around the Albuquerque area. From mountains to the desert viewing petroglyphs. See some of these hikes here ExploreTraveler.com

Can you drive to the top of Sandia Peak?

No, but you can get very close hiking by starting in The Elena Gallegos Picnic Area offers great trails that connect to the National forest. See the video here https://youtu.be/85vbdy9CQ_M Also consider taking the tram to the top of the ski area where you can also get very close.

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