Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico – Things To Do (2024)

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Want to know how to make the most of your visit to Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico? We’ve got you covered with all of our favorite things to do!

Petroglyph National Monument is one of the largest petroglyph sites in all of North America.

The carvings here are roughly 400-700 years old and are a combination of symbols and drawings left by natives and some Spanish settlers that came through later.

JP and I visited these petroglyphs as part of a larger road trip around New Mexico where we visited historic sites like Santuario de Chimayó, Aztec Ruins, Chaco Culture, Pecos, Gila Cliff Dwellings, and even Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Depending on what all you want to see and do here, you could spend as little as an hour or as much as 4-5 hours here.

Depending on the time of day and the shadows the sun creates, some markings are more visible than others.

petroglyphs in Albuquerque

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Best Things To Do At Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument is made up of 3 main trails where you can see hundreds of petroglyphs.

There is an additional trail that goes around a nearby volcano, but that one doesn’t have any petroglyphs.

To make the most of your visit to Petroglyph National Monument, we recommend the following trails and activities.

Petroglyph National Monument welcome sign

1. Boca Negra Canyon

Location: Atrisco Drive NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120

The Boca Negra Canyon trail is just 1 mile round trip.

Expect to spend about 1 hour here admiring about 100 different petroglyphs spread throughout the trail.

Boca Negra Canyon Trailhead at Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico

The last entry at this trail is at 4 pm, so keep your timing in mind when planning your itinerary.

This trail requires a lot of uphill hiking and some of the steps can be quite a large.

view from Boca Negra Canyon Trail at Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico

It feels more like you’re climbing around ancient ruins.

The views from the top are seemingly endless on a clear day.

petroglyphs along Boca Negra Canyon Trail at Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Many of the petroglyphs along this trail are larger drawings and are very clear and easy to see.

petroglyphs at Boca Negra Canyon Trail at Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico

2. Rinconada Canyon

Location: 7601 St Josephs Ave, Albuquerque, NM 87120

The Rinconada Canyon trail is a 2.2 mile round trip hike.

It’s the longest trail in the park.

You can expect to spend about 2 hours here looking for about 200-300 petroglyphs.

trail signage at Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque New Mexico - Rinconada Canyon Trail

We only spent about an hour and a half here.

Parking for this trail closes incoming access at 5 pm.

We saw some unique petroglyphs here that don’t seem to be as common as what we’ve seen on other trails here and throughout the southwest US.

Like this one below that is all dotted lines.

Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque New Mexico - Rinconada Canyon Trail - dotted petroglyphs

Or this drawing of a face.

petroglyph of a face at Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque New Mexico - Rinconada Canyon Trail

3. Piedras Marcadas Canyon

Location: Trailhead, Albuquerque, NM 87114

The Piedras Marcadas Canyon trail is a 1.5 mile round trip hike.

You can expect to spend about an hour and a half on this trail, which is how long we were there.

view from Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque New Mexico - Piedras Marcadas Canyon Trail

There is something like 300-500 petroglyphs throughout this entire hike.

This trail is open from sunrise to sunset.

petroglyphs at Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque New Mexico - Piedras Marcadas Canyon Trail

Since the rocks are so scattered and falling on top of one another, there are a lot of shadows on the rocks, making some of the petroglyphs a little harder to see, but not impossible.

petroglyphs at Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque New Mexico - Piedras Marcadas Canyon Trail

4. Volcanoes Day Use Area

Location: Volcanoes Day Use Parking Lot, Albuquerque, NM

We didn’t explore this area during our visit because there are no petroglyphs on the trails here.

It’s in a different section of the park where you’re walking amongst volcanic cinder cones instead.

You can walk anywhere from 1-4 miles on the trail here.

Plan to spend about an hour per mile that you walk.

The parking lot is open from 9 am – 5 pm each day and the trail is accessible from sunrise to sunset.

5. Free Cell Phone Audio Tours

Each trail where this is offered you’ll see a sign for “OnCell Phone Audio Tours”.

There will be a phone number to call where you can listen to the pre-recorded tour (505) 353-3004.

Then you’ll just type in the stop number on the sign to get the right audio tour.

It’s completely free unless your phone is international or doesn’t have minutes.

Cell phone service can be spotty here though, so depending on your carrier you may or may not be able to get the call to go through.

But if you have a phone that works, it’s a great way to explore each trail while having a virtual guide tell you all about it.

6. Petroglyph Information Center

Location: 6510 Western Trail NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120

The information center is not like a typical visitor center.

There isn’t a museum or any trails nearby.

It’s truly just a place to get information, including park maps, brochures, and a small store.


Where To Stay In Albuquerque

We’ve visited Albuquerque several times now as part of larger road trips and there are a few hotels in particular that we recommend.

These first two are the hotels we stayed in during this visit to Petroglyph National Monument that was part of a larger road trip around New Mexico.

The second two hotels are places we stayed during other visits to Albuquerque that we also have full walk-through room tours for.

✅ Homewood Suites by Hilton Albuquerque Uptown

Location: 7101 Arvada Avenue NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110

Homewood Suites is just off of I-40, a little over 10 miles from most of the Petroglyph trails.

It’s situated just behind a massive shopping and dining district that is just across the street.

I used to work the front desk at a Homewood Suites near Disneyland, so I’m partial to this brand.

It’s perfect for longer stays or road trips where you would want to be cooking some of your own meals, since it comes with a full kitchen.

It’s also perfect for if you need a separate bedroom and living room area.

The best part is that it costs the same as regular hotel rooms and breakfast is included.

Click Here To Book Your Homewood Suites by Hilton Albuquerque Uptown Stay Today!

✅ Hilton Garden Inn Albuquerque North/Rio Rancho

Location: 1771 Rio Rancho Blvd, Rio Rancho, NM 87124

This Hilton Garden Inn is actually north of the Petroglyph trails, about 8-10 miles away from most of them.

It’s situated away from town, as opposed to our other recommendations which are right along the main highway going through Albuquerque.

This brand in particular caters more towards business travelers, so we like staying at Hilton Garden Inn properties on our work-cations.

Rooms here tend to be less than $200 a night.

Click Here To Book Your Hilton Garden Inn Albuquerque North/Rio Rancho Stay Today!

✅ Hampton Inn Albuquerque University – Midtown

Location: 2300 Carlisle NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110

This Hampton Inn is just off of I-40, about 10 miles east of most of the Petroglyph trails.

We love staying at Hampton Inns when we travel because free breakfast is always included and this particular location also has free parking.

Rooms here tend to be less than $150 a night.

You can see a full walk-through of our King Room here in this video on our YouTube Channel.

Click Here To Book Your Hampton Inn Albuquerque University-Midtown Stay Today!

✅ Hilton Garden Inn Albuquerque Uptown

Location: 6510 Americas Parkway NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110

This Hilton Garden Inn is also just off of I-40, a little over 10 miles from most Petroglyph trails.

You can see a full walk-through of our room here in this video on our YouTube Channel.

Click Here To Book Your Hilton Garden Inn Albuquerque Uptown Stay Today!


Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we see about visiting Petroglyph National Monument.

✔️ Is Petroglyph National Monument Worth Visiting?

For us, exploring and finding petroglyphs never gets old, so Petroglyph National Monument is absolutely worth visiting.

I love that the trails are short because it allows you to spend more time looking at the petroglyphs than just walking around.

The set up is interesting in that you drive from trail to trail along a main road, spending 1-2 hours at each spot before moving onto the next.

But that makes it easy to visit the petroglyphs multiple times over the course of your visit to Albuquerque, squeezing a trail or two in in-between other activities.

circle spiral petroglyph at Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque New Mexico

✔️ How long does it take to see Petroglyph National Monument?

If you go to all of the trails, you’ll spend a minimum 5 1/2 hours exploring Petroglyph National Monument.

If you do the longer trails at the Volcanoes Day Use Area, you can expect to spend closer to 8 hours to see the whole park.

When we visited, we just did the main 3 petroglyph trails instead of the Volcanoes Area, and we spent about 4 hours here.

petroglyphs at Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque New Mexico

✔️ What is the significance of our Petroglyph National Monument?

Having the designation of being a “national monument” allows for the protection of one of the largest petroglyph sites in all of North America.

These petroglyphs are anywhere from 400-700 years old and most of them were left by Native Americans, which helps us to understand more about their culture, spiritual beliefs, and their lifestyles.

Many of these petroglyphs still hold significance to modern tribes in the area.

Some of the petroglyphs were also added by Spanish settlers who came along later.

Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque New Mexico - various petroglyphs

✔️ Which petroglyph trail is best?

This depends on your hiking preferences and what you’re looking for in a trail.

If you don’t mind hiking uphill, then I recommend the Boca Negra Canyon Trail.

It feels like you’re hiking amongst a bunch of ruins with petroglyphs spread around fallen rocks.

I would say the Boca Negra Canyon Trail is for the more adventurous hikers.

If you want something more flat and to just see a ton of petroglyphs along giant slabs of rock, more like an outdoor museum type of experience, then I recommend the Rinconada Canyon Trail.

Somewhere in the middle of those spectrums falls Piedras Canyon Trail.

Many of the petroglyphs are still in centralized areas on giant slabs that are fairly intact, but the trail itself feels a little more adventurous.

hand print - Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque New Mexico

Resources For Planning Your Trip To Petroglyph National Monument

If you need help planning your trip to Petroglyph National Monument, check out our Tips For Planning A Trip To Anywhere (A Step-By-Step Guide).

Read our Best Tips For Staying Safe When Traveling During Extreme Weather if you’re traveling during the extreme heat in Summer or the snow in Winter.

Also check out our Best Tips For Staying Well While You Travel if you’re prone to getting colds or have allergies when you travel or have other ailments.

Lastly, if you’re traveling on a budget, read up on our Best Tips For Traveling On A Budget: Your Guide To Planning An Affordable Trip.

Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque New Mexico - various petroglyphs

More Historic Places To Visit In New Mexico

Below are our favorite places we’ve explored all over New Mexico that we highly recommend.

✅ Chaco Culture National Historical Park: Things To Do

Chaco Culture is a remote UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It’s made up of a 9 mile loop drive where you can stop and explore a variety of ruins.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

✅ Aztec Ruins National Monument: The Ultimate Guide

Aztec Ruins is another area that is included in the cluster of ruins in New Mexico that are part of this UNESCO designation.

Aztec Ruins National Monument

✅ Santuario de Chimayó

Santuario de Chimayó is a pilgrimage just 30 miles outside of Santa Fe.

The dirt here is said to have healing powers, so it draws hundreds of thousands of visitors per year, especially during Holy Week.

Santuario de Chimayo

✅ Pecos National Historical Park

Pecos is just outside of Santa Fe.

It’s another hidden gem that most visitors to the area don’t go to, but it’s so worth visiting.

Pecos National Historical Park in New Mexico

✅ Gila Cliff Dwellings

Over in Southwest New Mexico are the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

This place is so fun to climb around the caves and spend some time outdoors.

Gila Cliff Dwellings in New Mexico

✅ Guadalupe Mountains To Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Over in Southeast New Mexico is Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Just on the other side of the border is Guadalupe Mountains National Park, so these two make a perfect itinerary for a weekend getaway.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park welcome sign

✅ The Best New Mexico Road Trip Itinerary

If you want to see all of the above plus a little bit more of New Mexico, I highly recommend this road trip itinerary.

The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Conclusion: Best Things To Do At Petroglyph National Monument

There are a variety of great hiking trails at Petroglyph National Monument where you can see hundreds of petroglyphs depending on the position and visibility of the sun.

It’s a place you can go to over and over again and still see something new every time.

It’s definitely worth visiting as part of your itinerary to Albuquerque, New Mexico.