The hiking in Albuquerque was AMAZING! There were many unique hiking trails. With each hike I appreciated how I could see for miles, the fresh air, beautiful blue skies, those fluffy white clouds and the amazing sunsets.
One day we hiked three trails of the Petroglyph National Monument. Per the NPS website “Petroglyph National Monument protects one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, featuring designs and symbols carved onto volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago.”
Our first hike was Rinconada Canyon, where we saw the most petroglyphs out of our three hikes. Parking was free and it was an easy two mile trail. As we hiked along and looked at all of the petroglyphs I wondered, how do they know how old these petroglyphs are?
According to one of the signs along the hike, “Although archaeologists are only now developing methods to determine the exact age of petroglyphs, they can estimate age in several ways. They study relatively dark areas and re-oxidation; they compare the style, content, and execution of petroglyphs to those of surrounding areas; and they compare designs with other, similar designs on dated pottery or painted murals. The superimposition of one petroglyph over another provides another means of relative dating. Archaeologists, currently using relative dating methods along the escarpment, are arriving at the conclusion that the petroglyphs were created between 1000 B.C. - A.D. 1700.”
Our second trail was Boca Negra Canyon. Parking was only one dollar since it was a weekday, but on the weekends it is two dollars. We did the Mesa Point Trail which was classified as strenuous on the NPS website but I would classify it as tough but awesome. The hike was short but uphill and had lots of rocks. The awesome part was you got to see the petroglyphs up close unlike any of the other trails. After completing the loop we headed over to the picnic area to have our lunch.
How are are petroglyphs made? According to a sign we read on the Boca Negra Canyon hike, “They used sandstone hammerstones and chisels to remove the thin exterior layer of desert varnish which exposed the lighter color of the basalt’s interior.”
Our third trail was Piedras Marcadas Canyon. We didn’t find the official entrance for this trail but we parked for free at a park near by and easily found the trail. The trail was relatively short but there was a lot of open area where you could hike freely. After seeing so many petroglyphs on the previous hikes we were more interested in hiking to the top to see the view and the view did not disappoint.
Another day we hiked Volcanoes Trail aka Volcanoes Day Use Area which is the fourth trail of the Petroglyph National Monument. This trail has no petroglyphs but this trail has inactive volcanoes that were formed by fissure eruption a really long time ago. This area is known as the Albuquerque Volcanoes or the Three Sisters and it is a great hike for a good workout. We did the entire loop twice which was just over six miles and with all the up and downs our hearts were pumping and it felt great.
Our last hike in Albuquerque was a sunset hike on Copper Trailhead. We hiked the trail up to U-Mound to have a snack and watch the sun start to go down. The view was beautiful up there. After we finished our snack we hiked down and did the big loop back to our car. As the sun was setting the colors on the hillside were beautiful. We reached our car as the sun was setting and the sky was filled with all my favorite colors. What a way to finish our last hike in Albuquerque!