It was hard to stop eating green chilis long enough to explore any places other than restaurants, but somehow I was able to tear myself away to hike Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This National Monument is known for having carvings on the surface of volcanic rocks some of which date back over 700 years.
There are an estimated 24,000 petroglyphs carved by Pueblo, Navajo, Apache, and early Spanish settlers inside the monument. Archeologists assume that hammers and stone chisels were the tools of choice for these engravings.
If you head toward the visitor center, beware that the trails are not located there; however, you will find some very colorful red chilis drying in the sun. As you can probably surmise, this trip solidified my deep appreciation of chili peppers. You can get green chili, red chili, or a mix of both called Christmas Chili, on EVERYTHING. If chilis aren’t your thing, there is a 20-minute video about the monument you can watch.
The hiking trails are only a short drive away from the visitor center. From afar, the monument doesn’t look like much. It merely looks like a nondescript hill with some boulders on it. Once you decide on one of the three hiking trails, the scene quickly changes. Amanda and I picked the Mesa Point Trail, which only takes about 30 minutes to hike round trip.
It’s easy to miss some of the petroglyphs so consider stopping often to look behind you. I found that I missed a lot of interesting carvings when I only looked forward.
We hiked this trail around 8 a.m. in July and it was already sweltering. There is no shade there, so plan for lots of water, sunscreen, and a healthy amount of breaks. The benefit of going in July is that no one else is crazy enough to be there. You’ll have the whole monument to yourself.
After a morning of hiking Petroglyph National Monument, we drove to White Sands National Park for some late afternoon desert sledding. Stay tuned for my next blog entry!