Hike of the Week: Petroglyphs National Monument

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Sierra Club outings and in-person events have been cancelled through February 28th, 2021. While we’re all disappointed, we understand that everyone’s health and safety are most important. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and go for a hike! Our do-it-yourself outings are designed with you in mind and offer a range of difficulties and outdoor experiences. We hope you’ll climb the mountains and receive their good tidings during this challenging time.

Remember to check the location for warnings and closures before you go.

Petroglyphs National Monument – Rinconada Loop Trail

Location: Albuquerque-west side
Difficulty: Easy, ~2.2 miles round trip, loop with approximately 220 feet of gentle elevation change
Hiking time: 1-2 hours
Cost: Free
Dogs: Not permitted along the canyon wall/petroglyph viewing area. Allowed on leash on the desert side of the loop only.
Map: About the park | Trail map

About this hike: Autumn is prime hiking time amongst the petroglyphs. This easy route is just waiting for you to get acquainted or reacquainted with this amazing venue touched by the hands of the ancients. It’s incredible that this gem is right in our backyard, so don’t miss it.

From the parking area, proceed to the personnel gate and follow the well marked trail. It proceeds along the canyon wall for approximately 1.1 miles. Look for petroglyphs on the rocks which are more plentiful after you’ve hiked approximately 3/8 mile and quite abundant towards the back of the canyon. There’s a seating area at the end of the loop and it’s a great place to take a snack, water and mindfulness break. To return to the parking area, proceed along the path that loops slightly to the South and West and takes you through high desert landscape, or return on the same trail you were on. Self-guided tour brochure.

Pro Tip: Take a pair of binoculars to get good views of the petroglyphs.

Getting there: Take I-40 West from the Big I and go to the Unser exit (Exit 154). Veer right and head North on Unser. There will be a sign for Rinconada Canyon parking area and it’s across from St. Joseph Avenue. If the parking area is full, you can park along St. Joseph Avenue (35.126968 X -106.723565).

Follow Leave-No-Trace ethics: leave only footprints and take only pictures.

Hike of the Week: Petroglyphs National Monument