Here’s the thing about visiting National Parks, Monuments and Historic Sites in New Mexico. There are a ton. This one is literally 5 miles from my sister’s house. It’s easy access and I used to hike there when I lived in Albuquerque. The easy access and my familiarity with it made me forget that New Mexico pretty much wants humanity to die. New Mexico is oppressively hot and dry, except when it’s wet and cold, or snowing and all of that can pretty much happen in the same day. But this day it was just oppressively hot and dry, which is normally fine because as an adult I understand that sometimes interesting things come with downsides. Which is why the three adults thought this would be great, and the four children under 7 nonchalantly went about the business of schooling us on our idiocy.
The Petroglyphs ARE GREAT. The Rangers were incredibly nice and definitely warned everyone about the trails. You will need to drive from the visitor center to the trails, which proved to be a hurdle for a couple who had ubered to the center. The trails once you get to them are actually fairly easy. There are boardwalks and steps so that you can see the petroglyphs well, as well as shaded rock houses with stationary binoculars for those who may be less mobile. The problem with kids is that they reach out and touch the rocks as they climbed (Not the Petroglyphs though) and the black rock is really hot. The petroglyphs look subtle in my pictures because it was so bright out, but they aren’t, in person they jump off the rocks. The park has over 20,000 petroglyphs that were carved between 400-700 years ago. The Junior Ranger book nicely presents information on the desert wildlife,the pueblos of NM and the early Spanish invaders.
This visitors center is nicely air conditioned and has a botanical walk that is short, handicap accessible and worth doing. My children were overjoyed to see a genuine tumbleweed, bless their little Pennsylvanian hearts. Petroglyph also gave out patches in addition to their badges and there were two to choose from. In an uncanny moment of cooperation each of my children chose a different patch, so we have examples of both.
Take water, sunscreen, and a hat if you go, leave small children home if it’s summer and you can. Watch out for rattlesnakes!