Backyard Rock Art… Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque N.M.

A note to our blogging friends: As the world reels from the Coronavirus, Peggy and I want to wish each of you the best in making it through this world-wide pandemic, the likes of which we have never experienced. Our travel plans, like yours, have been put on hold as we hunker down at our Oregon home, avoid as much social contact as possible, and wait for the worst to pass. Assuming we are able to avoid the virus, I will continue to blog, possibly relying on older materials. In the meantime, be careful and be safe. Curt and Peggy

You might not believe it from this photo, but the Petroglyph National Monument is located minutes away from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Petroglyphs are found throughout these rocks along some 17 miles of this volcanic escarpment. The blips you can see on the horizon are small volcanos. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
This is a photo I took at the beginning of the escarpment. Suburbs literally back up to the National Monument. Downtown Albuquerque can be seen in the distance.

Peggy and I parked Quivera in a small parking lot for the Petroglyph National Monument that we found behind a fast food restaurant. Fifty yards up the trail we began to find petroglyphs. Archeologists believe that there are around 25,000 in the 17 miles.

The rock I am standing next to provides an idea of just how concentrated the petroglyphs can be at the Monument as well as providing a perspective on their size. The grumpy looking circular guy on the left is the god of death. He will return in Friday’s post. Scary huh. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

It is estimated that the majority of the petroglyphs were carved between 1300 and 1680 CE by ancestors of present day Pueblo people, but some of the petroglyphs have been dated back to over 2000 years ago. Many of the petroglyphs we found at the Monument are similar to others we’ve found throughout the Southwest. For example, does the following rock art look familiar?

I named a similar petroglyph that we found at Three Rivers Cat Woman. I thought it was interesting on how this rock art was created on a rounded surface. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Surprise! Check out the feet. My ‘cat woman’ has the paws of a badger.
You also met up with the Horned Serpent on my post about snakes at Three Rivers’ petroglyph site. Here he is coiled up. I alway assume rattlesnakes mean business when I find them coiled up with their tails rattling at 50 times per second and ready to strike. Experts claim that the snake can only strike about half the length of its body. Assuming you know the length of the body, you can determine how close you can get. I always leave an extra ten feet for margin of error. (Grin)

Peggy and I visited the site at absolutely the wrong time for photography: high noon. (Being the old hands we are with our cameras, you think we would know better.) As a result, a number of the photos like cat/badger woman aren’t as clear as we like— even with photo processing.

Headwear is important in petroglyphs.
Speaking of headdresses, check out the one on this petroglyph. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Here is probably the most recognized character in petroglyphs across the Southwest, Kokopelli and his seductive flute. A second Kokopelli plays away in front.
It appears to me that Kokopelli is playing a duet here under a full moon.
I was amused by this fellow with shaky legs. Reminds me of a time I hiked into the Grand Canyon when I was a bit on the pudgy side. That’s what my legs were doing by the time I reached the bottom.
If people want a ring in their nose or their bellybutton, it’s their business. Why not. But it’s not for me. No thanks. But how about an arrow in your nose like this guy sports. Ouch! (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
My first thought on seeing this was Big Bird. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
But a closer inspection showed Big Bird’s head was actually a face. And not a happy one. The line you see coming down from the right eye probably represents crying.
Having dealt with the Big Bird that wasn’t, here are a few more animal petroglyphs that may or may not be what they seem. This rock art receives my nomination for the strangest. I’d say anteater on the bottom, if they made their way that far north. On top, a really wild guess would be a horned serpent hitching a ride.
Check out the petroglyph on the left. If an anteater making its way north seems strange, you really have to wonder about an alligator in the deserts of the Southwest. Maybe it’s a fat lizard. I also liked the caterpillar dog on the right.
Another large bird with a very big bill, or something.
Doggie? Or does that long nose suggest another anteater?
Your basic dog or coyote… Maybe.
I’ll close today with this dramatic mask, including ear rings.

WEDNESDAY’S POST: Flowers of the Pacific Crest Trail.

18 thoughts on “Backyard Rock Art… Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque N.M.

  1. Oh, if only I had seen this post before we traveled to Albuquerque! I would have thoroughly enjoyed seeing these petroglyphs and wandering in, around, and through the rocks.
    Thanks for continuing to post even in these tough times, even with old photos of past experiences. We all need something to do and something to look forward to doing. You always inspire!

    • Next time you make it to Albuquerque, Rusha! 🙂 As for blogging. It’s mutual— a way that all of our community can keep in touch. It is almost a definition of social distancing! And thanks, much. –Curt

  2. Lovely to have something to smile at today. Guess you’re having to rethink how you celebrate your birthday this year as travel is becoming harder and harder and less and less like a thing to do 😦

    • Yes on the travel, AC. Poor Peg, she was so looking forward to celebrating her 70 with the river cruise with our family. I’m pretty sure it will be next year, now. Thankfully, there is plenty to do around here. And thanks. –Curt

  3. Petroglyphs for your birthday is a great idea! I can’t wait till you get a chance to see Map Rock in Idaho, which is simply wonderful. Too bad your trip plans are interrupted by wildlife (can we call COVID-19 wildlife?), but of course you are doing the responsible thing. A quick skim shows you have just posted multiple petroglyph posts, and I’m eager to see them all. For now, I’m studying for my final exam (now online!) and also working on my very tardy Ireland photobook.

  4. My goodness! Twenty-five thousand petroglyphs in such a small space? You could hunker down there and spend until August just looking them over.

    You may know about the Peace Corps recall already. Here’s the article from Foreign Policy with some details.

    I’m going to continue working, since social isolation’s the very essence of how I spend my days. I get in the car, drive to the marina, walk down the dock, and get on a boat — then, I reverse it all at night. I rarely see anyone but the birds, and when I do it’s just a hand wave and hello. I need to keep working, and I’m glad I can without any change in the routine. I’m glad you’ve got the great outdoors at your doorstep, too. Solitary pursuits like hiking and photography will be great solace in the next weeks.

    • Sure could on the petroglyphs, and judging from the number of people we saw out there, it would be a great place for isolation.

      Not surprised about the Peace Corps given it has always maintained a policy to keep Volunteers out of harms way. It acted fast on ebola in Liberia and West Africa. One might ask ‘bringing them home to what’ on this time around.

      Isolation isn’t a problem for us either, Linda. Our five acres demand attention, the forest is next door for hiking, we have over 3000 books and 400 movies in our library! Plus I have books to write, blogs to post and photos to process. (And there are always blogs to read, comments to make and comments to answer.) As summer comes around, there are a number of nearby backpacking opportunities! –Curt

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