Petroglyph National Monument is famous for the petroglyphs that can be seen for seventeen miles along the West Mesa escarpment in Albuquerque. Petroglyphs are images that are carved on rocks. The images are created by constant pecking or carving on the rock. The national monument is located on 11 square miles that are divided into three distinct units. The units are called the Rinconada Canyon, Boca Negra, and the Piedras Marcadas unit. The Boca Negra unit is equipped with numerous self-guided trails that visitors can use to explore the area on their own. The petroglyphs that are found in the monument are believed to have been created by historic Native Americans and Hispanics. The site holds valuable historic insights that reveal a 12,000 year old story of what human life was like in ancient times. Researchers estimate that many of the petroglyphs were created between the 12th and 15th century. The park is named after the petroglyphs that were discovered by explorers and is one of New Mexico's greatest historical monuments. Many archeologists and historians frequent the site because Petroglyph National Monument is home to the most impressive collection of Hispanic and Indian art in the world. Many of the petroglyphs are complex and contemporarily used by today's Pueblo Indians. An estimated 25,000 petroglyphs can be seen throughout the monument.
There are no camping facilities available on the monument site, but there are a variety of hotels and motels that tourists can stay in near the vicinity. There are a number of things to see at the Petroglyph National Monument, including 100 archeological sites, volcanic formations, and a vast number of wildlife habitats. Some of the outdoor recreation that visitors can participate in include hiking and picnicking. Hiking is available for leisure travelers in the Rinconada unit. Visitors to the monument who decide to hike or take a self-guided trail are warned to stay cognizant of poisonous snakes which are commonly seen in the monument area. The monument is home to the diamond back snack as well as other harmful insects and reptiles. Picnicking is permitted in designated areas.
The monument sees a large number of visitors due to its location. Many national monuments located in remote areas of the Southwest that are not easily accessible by car but the Petroglyph National Monument is located within the city of Albuquerque. Its proximity to civilization makes it accessible to many people. Each year over a hundred thousand people attend Petroglyph National Monument.
The Petroglyph National Monument is open all year round and has a convenient Visitors Center called Las Imagines that is open from 8AM - 5PM daily. The Las Imagines Visitors Center is a monument facility that is filled with educational sales materials, information, and temporary exhibits. Visitors can go to the center to learn about the monument and what the site entails. A book store is also in the Visitors Center, stocked with educational literature. There are no admission fees to enter the park although there is a very small charge for visitor parking.