Fodor's Expert Review Petroglyph National Monument
Beneath the stumps of five extinct volcanoes, this park encompasses more than 25,000 ancient Native American rock drawings inscribed on the 17-mile-long West Mesa escarpment overlooking the Rio Grande Valley. For centuries, Native American hunting parties camped at the base, chipping and scribbling away. Archaeologists believe most of the petroglyphs were carved on the lava formations between 1100 and 1600, but some images at the park may date back as far as 1000 BC. A paved trail at Boca Negra Canyon (north of the visitor center on Unser Boulevard, beyond Montaño Road) leads past several dozen petroglyphs. A tad more remote is the sandy Piedras Marcadas Canyon trail, a few miles farther north. The trail at Rinconado Canyon (south of the visitor center on Unser) is unpaved. The rangers at the visitor center will supply maps and help you determine which trail is best for the time you have.