What is Petroglyph National Monument?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 29 April 2019
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Petroglyph National Monument is a historic site in New Mexico that is managed by the National Parks Service and the City of Albuquerque. The site is named for the more than 24,000 rock carvings found in the area, although there are a number of other sites of cultural, historic, and geologic interest enclosed within this designated area as well. Visitors to Petroglyph National Monument can also explore a number of museums and other sites in Albuquerque itself.

This area was set aside for protection in 1990. It covers 7,236 acres (29 kilometers) of land. No fees are charged to enter the area, although fees are charged for parking if people choose to bring vehicles, and the site is open year round. Like many other sites set aside for historic, environmental, or cultural reasons, Petroglyph National Monument has a visitors' center that provides information about the site and the things people can do there, including maps to help people locate areas of particular interest.


The high desert environment is of ecological interest for visitors who are interested in viewing the organisms that can thrive in highly arid climates that experience temperature extremes. The climate has also played an important role in the historic preservation of the site. Archaeological sites tend to do well in high desert climates because they lack the humidity that can lead to destruction of artifacts. Within Petroglyph National Monument, there are a number of archaeological sites left behind by previous human occupants of the area, in addition to the famous rock carvings.

Petroglyph National Monument is also home to a number of volcanic cones. Visitors can hike around the site to view various items of interest, including desert wildflowers in spring and fall. Written guides to the site are available and it is also possible to take guided tours with people who are knowledgeable about the site. Advance arrangements may be needed for tours, especially during the busy season.

Events occur year-round at Petroglyph National Monument. The National Parks Service maintains an extensive website with information about parks and monuments it oversees and this website includes regional event information that visitors can use to plan ahead. There are a number of parks and monuments in the American Southwest that can be visited on an extended tour of the region, including sites like the Grand Canyon, Arches National Park, Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, the Gila Cliff Dwellings, and Aztec Ruins National Monument.


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