Petroglyph National Monument

Native American and Hispanic petroglyphs

More than 15,000 prehistoric and historic Native American and Hispanic petroglyphs (images carved in rock) stretch 17-miles along Albuquerque's West Mesa escarpment. Associated archeological sites provide important chapters in a 12,000 year-long story of human life in the Albuquerque area.

General Information

Seasons / Hours

  • Open year round
  • Las Imagines Visitor Center Hours:
    8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily.
  • Boca Negra Unit Hours:
    Winter: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (Mountain Standard Time)
    Summer: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (Mountain Daylight Time)

Rates & Fees

No admission fees in most of park.

Visitor Center

The Las Imagines Visitor Center is an interim facility with information, temporary exhibits, and educational sales materials. An information booth is located at Boca Negra Canyon. A bookstore located at the Las Imagines Visitor Center is managed by the Southwest Parks and Monuments Association.

Regularly scheduled ranger-led walks during the summer months. Group and school tours by request throughout the year. Call 505-899-0205.
Lodging and camping facilities
None in park. A variety of hotels, motels, and camping sites are available around the area.
Local restaurants, grocery stores.
At the present time, only the Las Imagines Visitor Center is wheelchair accessible.
Special Needs
Parking areas for buses, trailers and RVs are available at Boca Negra Canyon; limited elsewhere.
Special Events, Programs
Special ranger-led hikes at various times. Call park information number for details.

Climate, Geography, Setting


Petroglyph National Monument occupies 11 square miles on 3 distinct sites west of the Rio Grande River within the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. These 3 units along the 17-mile West Mesa Escarpment, are managed jointly by the National Park Service, the State of New Mexico and the city of Albuquerque.


High desert, elevation in excess of 5,000. feet Mild most of the year. Hot and dry summers, with periods of rain from July through September. Average high temperature; 93 degrees F. Winter days can be cold. Hiking boots, sunscreen, and a hat are recommended. Carry plenty of water.

Getting There

Visitors traveling on I-40 take Unser Boulevard exit north three miles to park visitor center; five miles to Boca Negra Unit.

  • Rinconada Canyon: Exit north from I-40 on Unser Blvd.
  • Boca Negra (formerly Indian Petroglyph State Park): Take At the northern end of Atrisaco Drive via Montaño Road.
  • Piedras Marcadas (formerly Volcano Park): Accessed from Paseo del Norte exit west from I-25, to Paradise Blvd.


To Park: access by Interstate Highway (I-40), and various state roads. Albuquerque is serviced by an international airport, bus, and Amtrak stations. Public transportation to park is very limited.


Petroglyph National Monument contains one of the most impressive collections of Indian and Hispanic rock art in the world. It contains more than 100 archeological sites, a variety of volcanic features and a number of wildlife habitats.

Native Cultures

The first human activity in this region goes back 12,000 years, but most of the 17,0000 petroglyphs originated between 1300 and 1650. In content, complexity and style of execution, these petroglyphs are referred to as the Rio Grande style of rock art. Many of the designs are still used by contemporary Pueblo Indians, such as Kokopelli, the hump-backed flute player.

A surge in population of native cultures occurred in the early in the 14th century when a number of pueblos were constructed, including the unexcavated Piedras Marcadas site with more than 1,000 rooms on the ground floor alone.

Exploration & Settlement

As Europeans began arriving in the Rio Grande Valley, native populations decreased dramatically due to migration and disease. The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 forestalled continued Spanish settlement until 1692, when cattle ranchers arrived and added Christian peckings to the rock art.

The Monument was authorized June 27, 1990. Acreage: 1749, federal; 4,517, non-federal.


  • Rinconada Canyon: Contains the Visitor Center ad numerous petroglyphs.
  • Boca Negra: Contains numerous petroglyphs as well as hiking and nature watching.
  • Piedras Marcadas: Formerly Volcano Park, contains 5 cinder cones, lava tubes and other lava forms.

Things To Do

Petroglyph Viewing

Self-guiding trails through petroglyph areas at Boga Negra. Thirty minutes to one hour for petroglyphs at Boca Negra Canyon. Two to three hours for leisurely visit to Rinconada Canyon and other petroglyph areas in park.


Hiking is available in designated areas. Self-guiding trails at Boca Negra Canyon. There are primitive trails elsewhere and a small parking lot at Rinconada. Road to Volcanoes Area has limited vehicle access.


Picnicking is available in designated areas.


Reservations for school groups or other educational groups should be made at least two weeks prior to the visit. For reservations or more information call 505-899-0205. At least one month's notice and application for Special Use Permits is required. Filming permits are arranged on an individual basis (based on regional guidelines). For additional information concerning special use, or filming permits, call 505-899-0205.


Stay on trails. Do not touch petroglyphs as this speeds up deterioration of images. Modern graffiti and urban development are having major impacts.

Camping & Lodging

There is no camping or lodging available in the Monument but many opportunities in nearby commercial campgrounds and national forests. There are many hotels and motels within the city of Albuquerque.

Resources & Nearby Attractions


DesertUSA Trading Post

Cities & Towns

Albuquerque, New Mexico: Monument is within the city.
Bernalillo, New Mexico: 16 miles north.
Santa Fe, New Mexico: 59 miles north.
Los Alamos, New Mexico: 81 miles north.
Socorro, New Mexico: 78 miles south.

Parks & Monuments

Coronado State Park: 20 miles north.
Rio Grande Nature Center State Park: (Albuquerque)
Bandelier National Monument: 76 miles north.
Salinas Pueblo Missions: 74 miles southeast.
El Malpais National Monument: 92 miles west.
El Morro National Monument: 122 miles west.
White Sands National Monument: 215 miles southeast.

Recreation & Wilderness Areas

Santa Fe National Forest: 50 miles north.
Cibola National Forest: (13 separate parcels ) Adjoins the city.
Sandia Crest: 16 miles east.
Manzano Mountains: 25 miles southeast.

Historic & Points of Interest

Albuquerque Museum of Art & History: (Albuquerque) 505-243-7255
New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science: (Albuquerque) 505-841-2800
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center:( Albuquerque): 505-843-7270
Mission of San Augustin de Isleta: (Albuquerque) 505-869-3398
The Turquoise Museum: (Albuquerque) 505-247-8650
Maxwell Museum of Anthropology: (Albuquerque) 505-277-4404
Geology Museum at the University of New Mexico: (Albuquerque) 505-277-4204
Rio Grande Zoological Museum: (Albuquerque) 505-843-7413
Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway: (east of Albuquerque) 505-856-6419

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