October 22, 2011

10/19/11 - Petroglyphs NM

New Mexico has hordes of ancient ruins and pueblos.  Almost as interesting are the records the long-ago people left behind.  Right outside Albuquerque are a couple of canyons that contain over 20,000 petroglyphs (no, that’s not a typo—it really is a 20 with a comma and 3 more zeros!)
We went first to Boca Negra Canyon.  There are supposed to be about 200 petroglyphs there.  (Sigh) We didn’t see that many. 
After lunch , we headed up the Cliff Base Trail to check out the macaw and yucca pod petroglyphs.  We found those!
Rinconada Canyon is about 3 miles away (we drove).  The 1.25 mile trail there follows the northern escarpment of basaltic lava where the petroglyphs are located.  Archeologists say the 1,200 petroglyphs in this canyon were made 400-700 years ago.  Pueblo elders believe the images are as old as time.  They also believe that the petroglyphs choose when and to whom they reveal themselves.  The ranger said we might see 700.  The petroglyphs didn’t choose to let me see that many.  They didn’t like George very much either.

My method to find the images was to walk a little bit, then stop and stare, then walk more and look back where I was.  Sometimes it even worked.  Some are easy to find, and some aren’t. 
The archeologists don’t know what all the carved images are.  Some are obvious—like animals or people—and have tribal or clan meanings.  Some still have contemporary meaning, but some are unknown.  If you’ve got a good imagination, you can find aliens.   
We walked to the end of the canyon.  Instead of reversing and going back along the canyon wall, we made the loop that went across the dunes.  The trail guide said we might see Earless Leopard Lizards—but I didn’t see any lizards, with or without ears!   

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