This marks the beginning of a new series where we leave the beautiful but crowded cities of Europe to visit the lonely, wide-open spaces of the American and Canadian west. Our journey will take us from New Mexico’s northern Chihuahuan desert to Alaska’s remote Kodiak Islands.
For the next three weeks we will explore the mystical world of Native American rock art found in the Three Rivers Petroglyph site of southern New Mexico. Afterwards Peggy and I will spend six weeks travelling up the Alaska Highway through British Columbia and the Yukon Territory to Alaska and back. We will finish off our summer at the celebration known as Burning Man held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
Peggy and I have been visiting rock art sites throughout the Southwestern United States for the past 15 years. The Three Rivers’ site is one of our favorites. Some 21,000 petroglyphs featuring everything from people to bugs are spread out over 50 acres. Created by the Jornada Mogollon people of the Chihuahuan Desert, the glyphs were pecked into rock using stone tools for a period of over 500 years starting in 900 AD.
This is wide-open country set off by dramatic mountains. Within a hundred miles of Three Rivers, Billy the Kid fought in the Lincoln County Wars, Smokey the Bear was found hidden in a tree avoiding a forest fire, bug eyed aliens became synonymous with Roswell, and history was forever changed with the explosion of the world’s first atomic bomb.
I rode through the area on my bicycle as part of my ten thousand mile trek around North America. It’s a long way between pit stops.
Native Americans often chose special sites for their rock art and it is immediately apparent that the Three Rivers site is special. The words “raw beauty” come to mind. Set on a ridge, the site provides commanding views of the surrounding desert and mountains. Today’s blog will explore the natural beauty of the region. In my next blogs I will feature petroglyphs of people, animals, birds, geometric designs, animal tracks, reptiles, bugs and anything else that caught the fancy of the Jornada people– including a whale and a mysterious ship.
NEXT BLOG: I will look at glyphs that feature the Jornada Mogollon people and their gods.