Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Petroglyph National Monument

 I hiked the Rinconada Trail in Petroglyph National Monument last Thursday. This is one of the  4 designated trails.The city of Albuquerque  is beginning to surround the monument on three sides, so, like the Organ Mountain trails here in Las Cruces, these routes have more of the feeling of a city park. That being said it was relatively uncrowded on a weekday morning. I only encountered  a total of 5 people. The trail is very sandy. It winds along the base of the lava flow escarpment. Petroglyphs popped into view on the desert varnished  boulders early on and got more numerous and elaborate the further I walked.  I climbed up on the rocks to get better photos of the some of the panels. Do so at your risk however. There's probably a  very good reason that many of the images in the stone are snakes.
        The return trail just cuts across the sandy flats which wasn't particularly exciting. It might be better to just turn around and follow the escarpment back. You're almost guaranteed to see petroglyphs  that you didn't see on the way out. It took me about and hour and a half to this 2 mile hike with a few  side trips into the boulders. There is no shade. Start early as possible this time of year and even though it's a short walk, bring water. Dogs are allowed, but the one I saw didn't seem  very happy.   It was getting a little too hot. Cooler months would be more suitable for our canine friends.  Also, be forewarned,it is imperative that you pick up after your dog( there are many signs reminding you of this as well). The parking area has a bathroom for humans. There is no fee at this trail but at the nearby Boca Negra  trail, it costs one dollar to park your vehicle. After I finished my hike I went to visitor center just down the road. I got directions to  the Boca Negra trail and proceeded on my way.  Although this trail may be the monument's premier attraction, it wasn't meant to be for me that morning. As I approached the parking area, which was already nearing capacity, I could see several large groups milling about, ready to start the hike. I estimated I would be sharing the trail with  upwards of 50 people. I turned around. I'll save that one very early start on another visit to Albuquerque. The monument is open for exploring beyond the designated trails,but be prepared, even though the city is close by, this is a harsh desert environment. 


David Cristiani said...

Nice tour, and useful advice. Viewing this as a harsh desert environment, best to visit when cooler, makes more sense than a park ranger's recent assessment.

She maintained that all the sand there is a recent outcome from construction, and their website states that it's "transitional grassland". I used to live nearby starting in 1992, and I did many hikes there - it was not built anywhere near where you see today, and it was serious sand and desert...the 80's and 90's were very wet, too.

The snake (and centipede) imagery on so many boulders is telling indeed. Though I never saw a live snake there.

Imagine it on a full moon night, sand sage and patches of blooming mariola in the light, as some bats flutter far above. An enjoyable experience I'll never forget, before the parking lot and signs w/ posted hours.

Yahidiot said...

As with many of my experiences, I would have to agree many places were much more delightful before they were taken by the government, advertised, and prepped for the masses. Some people should just stick to looking at pictures.