Planning a Visit to Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument – Photo by Dr. Jim Kepler

Planning a Visit to Petroglyph National Monument

A stop on a recent vacation included the Petroglyph National Monument. It stretches seventeen miles along Albuquerque, New Mexico’s West Mesa. It’s on a volcanic basalt escarpment that dominates the city’s western horizon. Authorized June 27, 1990, the National Park Service and the City of Albuquerque together manage the 7,236 acre monument.

Petroglyph National Monument features a variety of ancient petroglyphs carved into volcanic rocks by the Ancestral Pueblo people and other indigenous cultures.

You will want to check the park’s website for the latest information on hours of operation, fees, and any closures or restrictions because of COVID-19.

Decide which of the park’s three main areas you would like to visit: Boca Negra Canyon, Rinconada Canyon, or Piedras Marcadas Canyon. Each area has its own unique petroglyphs and hiking trails. I describe each later.

Plan to spend at least 2-3 hours at the park to allow enough time to explore the trails and view the petroglyphs. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring water, sunscreen, and a hat. Some of the park’s trails are without pavement and are rocky, so if you have mobility issues, be sure to check trail condition in advance. 

Please understand that the Petroglyph National Monument is a protected area. Be sure to stay on designated trails and do not touch or disturb any of the petroglyphs.

What is a petroglyph?

Before the visit, I couldn’t define a petroglyph. Perchance, like me, you can’t either. 

A petroglyph is a type of rock art that is created by carving or engraving images or designs into a rock surface. Natural rock outcroppings, boulders, or cliffs makeup their canvass. Techniques used include a variety of techniques, such as pecking, grinding, or incising. The artform is in areas where rocks have soft surfaces. They’re carved on rocks, such as basalt, sandstone, or granite.

Petroglyph photo by Dr. Jim Kepler

Petroglyphs can depict a wide variety of subjects, including humans, animals, symbols, and abstract designs. Simple or complex describe the patterns. Size ranges from small individual figures to large panel compositions.

Petroglyph photo by Dr. Jim Kepler

Petroglyphs are often associated with prehistoric cultures. They provide an important source of information about the beliefs, customs, and daily life of ancient peoples.

Petroglyphs versus Pictographs

Petroglyphs differ from pictographs. Painting or drawing on rock surfaces creates pictographs. They used natural pigments such as ochre or charcoal as the paint.

Boca Negra Canyon, Rinconada Canyon, or Piedras Marcadas Canyon

Boca Negra Canyon 

Boca Negra Canyon is one of the three main areas of the Petroglyph National Monument. We know it for its large concentration of ancient petroglyphs. The canyon is home to over one-hundred petroglyph panels, which feature a wide variety of designs and images, including animals, humans, and abstract symbols.

Boca Negra Canyon trails are an easy, self-guided hike, with about a one mile round trip. The trails are well-maintained and provide visitors with an opportunity to examine the petroglyphs up close. The trail features interpretive signs that provide information about the history and meaning of the petroglyphs.

Petroglyph photo by Dr. Jim Kepler

One of the salient features of the Boca Negra Canyon petroglyphs is the “Great Kiva,” which is a circular, subterranean chamber that was used for religious and ceremonial purposes. The Ancestral Pueblo people, who were the original inhabitants of the area, might have built the Great Kiva. We believe the Ancestral Pueblo people created the petroglyphs in the canyon. Other indigenous cultures who lived in the area created additional petroglyphs.

Boca Negra Canyon is home to the Boca Negra Dam, a historic structure built in the early 20th century to provide water for the nearby community. The Dam trail offers a panoramic view of the Petroglyph National Monument and the city of Albuquerque.

Boca Negra Canyon offers visitors an opportunity to witness a wide variety of ancient petroglyphs and learn about the history and culture of the area through interpretive signs, and also a short hike with a panoramic view of the Petroglyph National Monument.

Rinconada Canyon

Rinconada Canyon is another area of the Petroglyph National Monument and home to over six-hundred and fifty petroglyphs.

Visitors can look at the petroglyphs up close on the self-guided Rinconada Canyon trails. The trails are well-maintained and range from easy to moderate in difficulty. They feature interpretive signs that provide information about the history and meaning of the petroglyphs.

Petroglyph photo by Dr. Jim Kepler

One of the unique features of the Rinconada Canyon petroglyphs is the “Star Circles,” which are a group of petroglyphs that depict a series of concentric circles with radiating lines. Many people believe these petroglyphs to be astronomical and used as a calendar or to track the seasons.

The Rinconada Canyon also offers a trail that leads to a viewpoint where visitors can examine the entire canyon and the surrounding landscape.

Rinconada Canyon has a large concentration of petroglyphs, including unique “Star Circles” and it offers visitors an opportunity to observe a wide variety of ancient petroglyphs and learn about the history and culture of the area through interpretive signs and also a moderate hike with a viewpoint.

Piedras Marcadas Canyon

Piedras Marcadas Canyon is one of the main areas of the Petroglyph National Monument. Known for its concentration of ancient petroglyphs, the canyon is home to over one-hundred and fifty petroglyphs.

The Piedras Marcadas Canyon trails are self-guided and offer visitors an opportunity to see the petroglyphs up close. The trails are well-maintained and range from easy to moderate in difficulty, and feature interpretive signs that provide information about the history and meaning of the petroglyphs.

Petroglyph photo by Dr. Jim Kepler

One of the unique features of the Piedras Marcadas Canyon petroglyphs is the “Thunderbirds,” which are a group of petroglyphs that depict a large bird-like creature with a long tail and outspread wings. These petroglyphs were associated with the sky, thunder, and lightning, and may used in religious or ceremonial contexts.

Piedras Marcadas Canyon also offers a hiking trail that leads to a viewpoint where visitors can see the entire canyon and the surrounding landscape, including the Sandia Mountains.

We know Piedras Marcadas Canyon for its unique “Thunderbirds” petroglyphs and it offers visitors an opportunity to see a wide variety of ancient petroglyphs and learn about the history and culture of the area through interpretive signs and also a moderate hike with a viewpoint.

Conclusion

Petroglyph National Monument features a variety of ancient petroglyphs carved into volcanic rocks by the Ancestral Pueblo people and other indigenous cultures. Hiking opportunities abound. I couldn’t help but think the Pueblo people may have seven encountered a few unidentified flying objects from the rock carving.

Petroglyph photo by Dr. Jim Kepler

Photo Source: All photos were taken by the author unless noted in the photo caption.
Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate. If you purchase using the links in the article I receive a small commission.

Ideas for Organizing Your Suitcase and Luggage

One Great Way to Organize Your Suitcase or Luggage

Last time, I shared how I needed help with getting luggage when I started traveling. You can read how to about it here – How To Select a Suitcase or Luggage. Click on the link to read the article.

Once you have the correct suitcase and luggage, pack it. Here are some ideas for organizing your suitcase and luggage.

Ideas for Organizing Your Suitcase and Luggage

Make a Packing List:

  • Before you pack, make a list of everything you need to bring with you on your trip.
  • A packing list will help you stay organized and ensure that you don’t forget any important items.
  • Commercial packing lists are available to help you select your clothing

Roll Your Clothes:

  • Rolling your clothes instead of folding them can help save space in your suitcase and prevent wrinkles.
  • I learned this trick when in the US Army.

Use Packing Cubes:

  • Packing cubes are small, lightweight bags you can use to organize your clothes and other items within your suitcase.
  • They can help you keep track of what’s in your suitcase and make it easier to find things when you’re on the go.

Pack Heavier Items at the Bottom:

  • To balance the weight in your suitcase and make it easier to lift, pack heavier items at the bottom and lighter items on top.
  • Items packed on the bottom creates a lower center of gravity and prevents the bag from tipping over.

Use the Space Inside Your Shoes:

  • To save space in your suitcase, consider packing smaller items inside your shoes.
  • It’s a good place to store a belt or braces (suspenders).

Use Packing Wraps or Compression Bags:

  • Packing wraps or compression bags can help you compress your clothes and other items.
  • They allow you to fit more into your suitcase.

Leave Some Room for Souvenirs:

  • Don’t pack your suitcase too full.
  • You’ll want to leave some room for souvenirs or items you pick up on your trip.

Consider Your Travel Destination:

  • Think about the climate and activities you’ll be taking part in at your destination, and pack accordingly.
  • This will help you avoid over packing or forgetting important items.

Happy travels!

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate. If you purchase using the links in the article I receive a small commission.

How To Select a Suitcase or Luggage

Packing a Suitcase is An Art

Who knew packing a suitcase was an art? Not me. 

Too often a man doesn’t realize or appreciate all his wife or significant other does for him. It took my wife dying for me to come to this realization. She always packed the bags for our vacations and for my business trips. She never complained that we were still using the same luggage we’d received as a wedding present all those years ago.

Old, outdated suitcases, a laundry basket, tote bags, and even grocery sacks jammed full of my belongings filled my car as I drove halfway across the United States to attend a writer’s conference.

Hassle and major pain describes unloading the car each evening as I checked into my hotel. The only benefit from my packing was all the steps I walked as I made four or five trips from my car to the room each night. At the conference center, I repeated the scene as I carried my baggage to the room.

To my horror, once in the room I couldn’t find simple things like pain medication or even my socks without rifling through a suitcase, bag, tote, and even plastic sack. I promised myself I would never repeat this nightmare.

I asked the counsel of a couple of experienced traveller friends. With their help, I learned how to get the right bags and how to organize them for a trip. The cross-country trip a few years ago was the first of many. I’ve traveled to a resort out of the country, taken a couple of cruises, and made a few trips across the USA. I’ve learned the right suitcases and bags are important.

How To Select a Suitcase or Luggage

Size and Weight: 

  • One of the most important factors to consider when selecting a suitcase for traveling is the size and weight of the suitcase.
  • Airline weight restrictions vary, but most airlines have a weight limit of 50 pounds for checked baggage, so it’s important to choose a suitcase that is lightweight and easy to maneuver.
  • I have one bag to carry-on, one for my computer, and then I check a larger bag.
  • If you have more bags, you’ll get charged extra baggage fees.
  • You should opt for a carryon luggage as large as 22 (length) x 14 (width) x 9 (height) inches.
  • A checked bag no larger than 62” (the total linear dimensions of length + width + height), including wheels and handle, which is standard for most US airlines.

Durability: 

  • I lost a wheel on a large suitcase on my first trip. It made moving the item almost impossible.
  • I learned that cheaper isn’t better.
  • It’s important to choose a durable suitcase that can withstand the rigors of travel.
  • Search for suitcases made from strong materials like polycarbonate or ballistic nylon, which are less likely to get damaged during transit.

Organization: 

  • Packing a suitcase can be a hassle, so it’s important to choose one with organizational features like compartments and pockets to help keep everything in its place.
  • I’ll write a follow-up article on how to pack your suitcase.

Wheel and Handle: 

  • Remember my lost wheel? It made moving the large bag a hassle.
  • I failed to consider the mobility of my suitcase.
  • Considering mobility is important.
  • Look for four-wheeled suitcases as they are more stable, easier to move and you can pull it beside you instead of carrying it.
  • Also, telescoping handles for easy carrying.

Security: 

  • Make sure that the suitcase has a secure lock, so that your belongings will stay safe while in transit.
  • Make sure you know your lock combinations as security check points may want to inspect the bag’s contents.

Water Resistance: 

  • A visit to a place with a high chance of rain or humidity requires special consideration.
  • You’ll want to choose a suitcase that is made from water-resistant materials to help keep your belongings dry.
  • This helped on a cruise – tour I took to Alaska.
  • My luggage sat in the pouring rain at Whittier, Alaska, for a half-hour when being transferred from the ship to the train.

Brand Reputation: 

  • It’s a good idea to choose a suitcase from a reputable brand that has a track record of producing high-quality and durable products.
  • Ask your friends who travel what they recommend.

Overall, these are the most important aspects that you need to keep in mind when choosing a suitcase for your travel. It will depend on your specific travel needs and budget to decide which one is the best for you.

Once you have your bags and suitcase. You’ll need to pack them Next, I’ll share one great way to pack and organize your suitcase and bags.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate. If you purchase using the links in the article I receive a small commission.