Hiking Trails in Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument - Overview

Petroglyph National Monument stretches across a 17-mile 'escarpment' in northwest Albuquerque and offers visitors a chance to view some of the more than 20,000 petroglyphs located in the monument. An 'escarpment' is a long, precipitous, clifflike ridge of land or rock, commonly formed by faulting or fracturing of the earth's crust. In this case, due to the volcanic activity in this region 150,000 years ago.

The Road to 'National Monument' Status
Due to efforts by local conservaton groups, Petroglyph National Monument was conceived in Boca Negra Canyon and originally named as Indian Petroglyph State Park. Recognizing the importance of protecting this immense collection of ancient rock art, the entire 17-mile escarpment was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Then in 1990, the conservation group 'Friends of Albuquerque Petroglyphs' led the charge to higher federal status by successfully convincing congress to designate the area as Petroglyph National Monument.

Geologic History
150,000 years ago, the Albuquerque area was rife with volcanic activity. It was at this time that the West Mesa, a 17-mile long land table emerged from hardening layers of continuously flowing lava. Over time, the softer sediment of the volcanic mesa's eastern edge began to erode, leaving behind the 17-mile long escarpment that is Petroglyph National Monument. As stated above, an 'escarpment' is a long, precipitous, clifflike ridge of land or rock, commonly formed by faulting or fracturing of the earth's crust.

Along the escarpment are rocks and boulders made of basalt, formed by the hardening lava flows and volcanic spew. Basalt erodes slower than the sediment beneath it eventually releasing the rocks and boulders to tumble down the canyon walls, no longer supported by their 'softer' sandstone base.

Over time, a 'desert varnish' has darkened the face of most of these basalt rocks, forming endless blank canvasses from which the Ancestral Pueblos created petroglyphs. A petroglyph is a picture, symbol, or other piece of art work pecked, carved or incised into natural rock surfaces.

The dark desert varnish on the face of the basalt rocks was caused by the oxidation of minerals such as manganese and iron. By chipping away at this dark desert varnish, the light colored underside of the rock was revealed, enabling ancient peoples to communicate with each other through pictures and symbols.

Petroglyph or Pictograph?
While the two terms are often used interchangeably, they have two distict meanings:

  • Petroglyphs are images that have been physically carved or incised onto a rock surface, such as those found in the park.

  • Pictographs, not found within this park, are images which have been painted onto a rock surface.


    Petroglyph National Monument is split up into 4 distinct zones:

    Boca Negra Canyon
    Boca Negra Canyon is considered the birthplace of Petroglyph National Monument. In the 1960?s this canyon became Indian Petroglyph State Park and through the work of citizens and conservation groups, eventually became a National Monument.

    The dark boulders on the hillsides of Boca Negra Canyon are a dark brown/black color caused by exposure to the elements. Oxidation of metals in the rocks, such as manganese and iron, causes this ?desert varnish? and provided a perfect canvas for ancient artists who chiseled these images. Chipping away at the desert varnish reveals the light colored underside of the rock enabling the creation of this rock art.

    The Petroglyphs in Boca Negra Canyon range in age from 1000 B.C. to recent times. Most petroglyphs in Boca Negra Canyon were created in the ?Rio Grande Style? which developed around 1300 A.D. through the 17th century. Petroglyphs in Boca Negra Canyon include spirals, human figures, dragonflies, serpents, birds as well as the Kokopelli, a flute player. Three short interpretive trails wind through the escarpment of Boca Negra Canyon taking visitors on an illustrative journey back in time.

    Rinconada Canyon
    Rinconada Canyon offers the longest and most secluded trail in Petroglyph National Monument. It also contains some of the park's best rock art. There is only one trail (a loop) in the canyon and it leads visitors from the parking lot around the edge of the canyon walls. Volcanic eruptions which occurred 150,000 years ago are responsible for the formation of Rinconada Canyon. The dark rocks which line the canyon walls are made of basalt, and were formed from solidified volcanic lava flows as well as other eruptive volcanic forces.

    Piedras Marcadas Canyon
    Located in the heart of the Albuquerque suburbs, Piedras Marcadas Canyon offers a single interpretive trail which contains markers for 5 individual petroglyphs (although there are many other petroglyphs in the canyon). While visitors will not experience the seclusion of Rinconada Canyon or the Volcanoes Day Use Area, Piedras Marcadas Canyon possesses a rich variety of well-preserved rock art and is an easy, pleasant day hike.

    Volcanoes Day Use Area
    Known to locals as the 'Three Sisters' or the Albuquerque Volcanoes, the Volcanoes Day Use Area appears at first to be a barren grassland with only a few small hills in the distance. The area, in fact, is and was a very important geological feature to both modern scientists and the Ancestral Pueblo peoples. The small hills are actually 'volcanic cinder cones' from where magma used to be released.

    Unlike traditionally known volcanoes such as Mt. Saint Helens, where magma rises through a central vertical vent, these cinder cones were created by rare 'fissure eruptions' where magma flowed out of thin cracks in the Earth's crust. Fissure eruptions would leave behind several cinder cones placed next to each other along an expanse of land stretching for miles. Mt. Kilauea in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a great example of a 'live' fissure eruption volcano.

    Several short trails lead in and around the Volcanoes Day Use Area, which is located just a short drive from the rest of Petroglyph National Monument.
  • Petroglyph National Monument - History

    Settlement in New Mexico - The Atrisco Land Grant

    The Spanish land tenure or land grant system was a practice brought from Spain to establish economic development and settlement in New Mexico. Prominent individuals requested large parcels of land and their ownership was granted by a Spanish official or by the King of Spain. The Rio Grande and its surrounding valley were lush with native vegetation therefore Spanish settlers considered this land ideal for settlement, agricultural and grazing purposes. The Coronado expedition of 1540, led by Captain Hernando de Alvarado, marked the earliest sightings of what would later become known as the Valle de Atrisco in the present Albuquerque area.

    Early History of Valle de Atrisco

    Spanish history of the Valle de Atrisco begins in 1598 with the arrival of Don Juan de Oñate of Spain who entered the northern frontier of New Mexico via El Camino Real for purposes of claiming the territory on behalf of the king of Spain. In the early 1600s a number of Spanish estancias (farms) and ranches dotted the area of the Rio Grande valley between Sandia Pueblo to the north and Isleta Pueblo to the south. By 1632 the first Spanish settlement in Albuquerque was on the site of present day Old Town.

    Spanish settlement came to a halt in 1680 with the outbreak of the Pueblo Revolt. The revolt was the result of forced labor and religion imposed on the Pueblo Indians by Spanish colonists and missionaries. Twelve years later, Don Diego de Vargas succeeded in reoccupying New Mexico.

    Within the ranks of de Vargas' volunteer army was a native New Mexican, Don Fernando Duran y Chaves II. In 1692, De Vargas awarded Don Fernando an 82,000-acre grant on the lands where his father, Don Pedro, once lived on the west side of the Rio Grande. This land became known as the Atrisco Land Grant.

    El Camino Real

    The oldest, most historic road in the United States is El Camino Real, also known as "The King's Highway" or "The Royal Road." In 1598 Oñate's first expedition into New Mexico walked along El Camino Real naming areas of the land as they journeyed north. Many of the names declared by Oñates' expedition are still used today such as Belen, Bernalillo, and Isleta. Since the late 16th century Spanish explorers, soldiers, colonists, missionaries, and merchants traveled north from Chihuahua, Mexico to Santa Fe, New Mexico via El Camino Real. Except for the 12 year Pueblo Revolt period when the Spanish forbade travel on the highway, El Camino Real was in constant use until 1881 when the Santa Fe Railroad completed laying the tracks between Albuquerque, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas.

    For over four centuries this course-whether you call it El Camino Real as the Spanish, or El Camino Constitucional (Constitutional Highway) as the Mexican's, or Interstate 25 as the American's-served and continues to be the route of choice connecting people, cultures, and commerce throughout the western United States. Its historical significance has been acknowledged by Congress who designated El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (The Royal Road of Interior Land) a National Historical Trail in October of 2000.

    Spanish Settlement in Atrisco

    Settlers began to move to the village of Atrisco in 1703; In 1706 the Villa de Albuquerque was established. Settlers in the Atrisco valley built their haciendas (homes) along the Rio Grande. The villagers were highly reliant upon the resources of the land for their survival. The native grasses that grew in the canyons and rincons (corners) were critical for grazing sheep and cattle. Lands were cultivated and irrigated and used to grow corn, chile, wheat, squash, alfalfa, and beans. The land grant settlers relied on grazing sheep and other livestock for food and clothing. By 1760, over 200 people had settled in Atrisco, and the valley was becoming crowded. As a result in, 1768, the Atrisco Land Grant expanded to include the mesa top grasslands.

    Other land grants included the Alameda grant to the north. The Elen and Carnual grants to the est, the Parajito grant to the south and many others up and down the Rio Grande Valley and throughtout New Mexico.

    In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, and New Mexico officially became part of the United States. The treaty honored existing land grants. For the people of Atrisco, this secured the land grant and provided increased economic opportunity.

    The Atrisco Land Grant Today

    In 1967 the Atrisco Land Grant was incorporated into Westland Development Company Inc. which manages approximately 56,000 acres of Atrisco's land holdings. Of the monument's 7,236 acres, nearly 2,000 acres in the southern area called Mesa Prieta were once part of the Atrisco Land Grant. Among the volcanic rocks that form the canyons within the Atrisco grant, a considerable number of historic petroglyphs include Christian crosses, livestock brands, and Spanish initials.

    For over 400 years, the Atrisqueños (Atrisco land grantees) have witnessed a number of economic and political changes, from the Pueblo Revolt to New Mexico's independence from Spain, and New Mexico's inclusion as a territory of the United States in 1846. Today, Atrisco remains one of the oldest existing land grants in the United States and one of very few Spanish Colonial grants still presently owned by the heirs of the original Spanish settlers. The Atrisco Land Grant continues to be a proud part of Spanish heritage in New Mexico.

    Petroglyph National Monument - Geology


    150,000 years ago, the Albuquerque area was rife with volcanic activity. It was at this time that the West Mesa, a 17-mile long land table emerged from hardening layers of continuously flowing lava. Over time, the softer sediment of the volcanic mesa's eastern edge began to erode, leaving behind the 17-mile long escarpment that is Petroglyph National Monument. As stated above, an 'escarpment' is a long, precipitous, clifflike ridge of land or rock, commonly formed by faulting or fracturing of the earth's crust.

    Along the escarpment are rocks and boulders made of basalt, formed by the hardening lava flows and volcanic spew. Basalt erodes slower than the sediment beneath it eventually releasing the rocks and boulders to tumble down the canyon walls, no longer supported by their 'softer' sandstone base.

    The rock that makes up the West Mesa escarpment is vesicular basalt. The basalt flow originated from fissures marked by five volcanic spatter cones that can be seen along the western horizon of Albuquerque. Located within the monument boundary, these cones are considered part of a sacred landscape by many Puebloan people today. While the last volcanic eruption occurred approximately 150,000 years ago, the area is still geologically active. Geologists, however, consider these spatter cones to be extinct.

    The basalt that makes up the boulders on which the petroglyphs are carved was originally a light gray color. Over time the surface of the rock was coated by a thin black or dark brown layer of oxidation scientists call "desert varnish." When the surface of the boulder is pecked or abraded, the lighter rock underneath is exposed, displaying a stunning light gray-on-black contrast.

    Petroglyph National Monument - Wildlife

    Petroglyph National Monument has much more to offer than the cultural resources for which it is so well known. Various types of wildlife utilize this narrow corridor, some in transit during migration, others for their entire lifespan. Plants, birds, insects, animals, all are part of the ecosystem that Petroglyph holds in this tiny strip of land and all will eventually encounter the millipedes of Petroglyph NM.


    Petroglyph National Monument is home to two resident species of millipedes, the Desert Millipede (Orthoporus ornatus) and the Slate Millipede (Comanchelus chihuanus). They are very easy to tell apart. The Desert Millipede is dark brown, averages 6 inches in length, and is the most common species seen. The Slate Millipede is dark gray, averages 3 inches in length and is considered rare. Despite their unusual appearance, they are quite harmless and extremely beneficial to the desert environment. Millipedes are nature's recyclers. They eat just about anything that is dead — plant or animal. This may sound kind of gross, but this turns out to be a very important part of the desert ecology. The desert environment is so dry that anything left out in the open tends to be preserved (this is one reason why there are so many ruins and archeological sites in the southwest). If the millipedes did not eat the dead plants and animals, they would take so long to decompose that the ground would be littered with them.

    Even though the millipedes are harmless, they do have a defense mechanism. Whenever they are handled or bothered, they curl up into a spiral and ooze liquid through glands at the top of their legs. The liquid not only smells and tastes bad, but also is toxic to anything that might eat it. Millipedes are gentle creatures, but they should not be picked up. When you visit, please take the time to look at the millipedes while they go about their lives in the monument and see them for what they are—beneficial, useful and interesting parts of our environment.


    If you visit Petroglyph during the spring or summer, you might see a snake. All snakes will escape from human contact given the opportunity. Most of the snakes found in Petroglyph are harmless and nocturnal. However, Petroglyph does have a healthy population of two types of venomous snakes, the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) and the Western Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis).

    While it is unlikely you will see either rattlesnake during your visit, there is a possibility since you are walking through their habitat. Snakes are mostly nocturnal, seeking shelter in rodent burrows or rock crevices during the hotter part of the day. In mild to warm temperatures, approximately 70-80 degrees, individuals may be seen warming themselves on basalt boulders, on trails and on blacktop roads. Snakes play a vital role in our ecosystem, feeding upon rodents that may be carriers of hantavirus.

    In the event you come across a snake, here are some things to remember:

    -The best thing to do is give them plenty of room. Keep a distance of at least 6 feet between you and a snake.

    -Rattlesnakes will not attack but if disturbed or cornered, they will defend themselves just like any other wild animal.

    -Be aware of where you are walking. Do not attempt to look into or put your hands or feet in any holes, burrows or rock crevices.

    -Listen. You will hear a rattlesnake before you see it. Rattlesnakes have a built in warning system- when you are getting too close for their comfort, they will let you know.

    -Note the location of the snake and report your sighting to a Park Ranger.

    In the highly unlikely event of a snake bite:

    -Remain calm.

    -Do not try to cut into the bite or attempt to suck the venom out.

    -Do not use a tourniquet.

    -Send someone for help and get medical care as soon as possible. (Hospitals are only 15 minutes from Petroglyph.)

    -Stay as still as possible. Physical exertion increases the flow of venom through the body.

    Many rattlesnake bites are "dry" bites in which venom is not injected. It is physiologically costly for a rattlesnake to waste venom on something other than a meal.

    Petroglyph National Monument - Archeology

    Petroglyphs are fragile, non-renewable cultural resources that, once damaged, can never be replaced. The NPS asks for your assistance in preserving this rich cultural landscape.


    Petroglyphs are rock carvings (rock paintings are called pictographs) made by pecking directly on the rock surface using a stone chisel and a hammerstone. When the "desert varnish" on the surface of the rock was pecked off, the lighter rock underneath was exposed, creating the petroglyph. Archaeologists have estimated there may be over 25,000 petroglyph images along the 17 miles of escarpment within the monument boundary.

    It is estimated 90% of the monument's petroglyphs were created by the ancestors of today's Pueblo Indians. Puebloans have lived in the Rio Grande Valley since before 500 A.D., but a population increase around 1300 A.D. resulted in numerous new settlements. It is believed that the majority of the petroglyphs were carved from about 1300 through the late 1680s.

    The arrival of Spanish people in 1540 had a dramatic impact on the lifestyle of the pueblo people. In 1680 the Pueblo tribes rose up in revolt of Spanish rule, and drove the settlers out of the area and back to El Paso, Texas. In 1692 the Spanish resettled the area. As a result of their return, there was a renewed influence of the Catholic religion, which discouraged participation by the Puebloans in many of their ceremonial practices. As a consequence, many of these practices went underground, and much of the image making by the Puebloans decreased. A small percentage of the petroglyphs found within the park pre-date the Puebloan time period, perhaps reaching as far back as B.C. 2000. Other images date from historic periods starting in the 1700s, with petroglyphs carved by early Spanish settlers.


    There were many reasons for creating the Petroglyphs, most of which are not well understood by non-Indians. Petroglyphs are more than just "rock art," picture writing, or an imitation of the natural world. They should not be confused with hieroglyphics, which are symbols used to represent words, nor thought of as ancient Indian graffiti. Petroglyphs are powerful cultural symbols that reflect the complex societies and religions of the surrounding tribes. Petroglyphs are central to the monument's sacred landscape where traditional ceremonies still take place. The context of each image is extremely important and integral to its meaning. Note each petroglyph's orientation to the horizon and surrounding images, as well as the landscape in which it sits. Today's native people have stated that the placement of each petroglyph image was not a casual or random decision.Some petroglyphs have meanings that are only known to the individuals who made them. Others represent tribal, clan, kiva or society markers. Some are religious entities and others show who came to the area and where they went. Some petroglyphs still have contemporary meaning, while the meaning of others is no longer known, but are respected for belonging to "those who came before."While viewing these petroglyph images, please consider their importance to both past and present cultures.


    By remembering and following the rules listed here, you can help preserve these unique and fragile cultural resources that are part of our heritage.

    Avoid Touching the Petroglyphs

    Look and observe, BUT DO NOT TOUCH! Preserve petroglyphs by not touching them in any way. Even a small amount of the oils from our hands can erode petroglyphs and destroy the patina (color) of the carved or pecked image. Stay on the Trails

    For your own safety and the preservation of the petroglyphs, stay on designated trails within the monument. Climbing among the rocks can dislodge loose stones causing damage to the petroglyph boulders. Falling rocks can hurt people, or may scratch the carved and pecked images causing unintentional damage. Do not re-arrange the rocks or move things from where you find them. The petorglyphs are important individually and in relation to each other. To even try and understand a petroglyph or pictograph it needs to be viewed in relation to its environment: including the adjacent image(s), the entire basalt escarpment, and the surrounding landscape. For someone to fully appreciate a site, the glyphs and their surroundings should be left undisturbed. Photography and Sketching is Allowed.

    Do not introduce any foreign substance to enhance the carved and pecked images for photographic or drawing purposes. Altering, defacing, or damaging the petroglyphs is against the law -- even if the damage is unintentional.

    Re-pecking or re-painting does not restore a petroglyph or pictograph, it destroys the original. DO NOT add your own marks to the images. The introduction of graffiti destroys the petroglyphs and is disrespectful to contemporary Native Americans and their ancestors.

    Pets Where dogs are allowed, keep them on a leash and clean up after them. Animals may damage archeological sites (including petroglyph sites) by digging, urinating and defecating on them. Animals can destroy fragile cultural resources. Artifacts If you happen to come across sherds (broken pottery) or lithics (flakes of stone tools), leave them where you see them. Once they are moved or removed, a piece of the past is forever lost.

    All archaeological and historic sites within Petroglyph National Monument are protected by a number of laws and regulations including the Antiquities Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. These and other laws prohibit digging, removing artifacts, damaging and defacing archaeological resources in national parks, and provide felony and/or misdemeanor prosecution with imprisonment up to ten years and fines up to $100,000.

    If you see people vandalizing or disturbing archeological sites or petroglyphs, please report it as soon as possible by calling Petroglyph National Monument Law Enforcement at 505-899-0205 or the City of Albuquerque Open Space Division Dispatch at 505-873-6632.

    While visiting the national monument consider yourself a guest in someone's home and act appropriately. Native Americans today consider the entire national monument to be a sacred landscape. Like other places of worship throughout the world, the area demands respect and care.

    Petroglyph National Monument - Flora & Fauna

    The following is a list of common plants in Petroglyph National Monument.

    Prickly Pear Opuntia phaeacantha
    The edible fruits of this plant are called "tunas" and were one of the few sweets the native peoples enjoyed before the arrival of Europeans.

    Purple Aster Machaeranthera spp.
    These flowers are found widespread in New Mexico during the fall. A concoction of leaves and stems was used by native peoples as a stimulant, especially effective for women in labor. Tea from the ground plant was used to treat upset stomachs.

    Fourwing Saltbush Atriplex canescens
    Native peoples ground and cooked the seeds of this plant as a cereal; the leaves were dried and mixed with other ingredients for flour. Ashes of burned saltbush were used as a leavening for breads.

    Broom Dalea Psorothamnus scoparius
    This tall shrub (sometimes called Purple Sage) has many branches, and is characterized by leaves with only one leaflet, and intense purple flowers.

    Cane Cholla Opuntia imbricata
    Cholla buds are high in calcium. Local native peoples ate the fruit raw, stewed or dried and ground into flour. The woody skeleton has been used for walking sticks or tied together to make fences.

    Jimsonweed Datura meteloides
    This highly poisonous perennial plant has a history of ceremonial use by native peoples of the southwest.

    Sand Sage Artemisia filifolia
    This aromatic plant has many medicinal uses. Boiled in water, the steam can be inhaled as a decongestant; as a tea it is believed to cure stomach disorders.

    Scorpion Weed Phacelia integrifolia
    This plant has been used medicinally by local native peoples. The powdered root or leaves are mixed with water and rubbed on sprains, swellings and rashes.

    Spectacle Pod Dimorphocarpa wislizenii
    This herb is a member of the mustard family. The fruit of the plant is flat and resembles a pair of spectacles.

    Snakeweed Gutierrezia sarothrae
    This medicinal plant is used in a variety of ways by local native peoples. Used in poultices and as a tea it is said to be useful in treating rheumatism, rattlesnake bites, eye problems, bruises, aching muscles, colds and sore throats.

    Curly Dock Rumex hymenosepalus
    This plant is sometimes known as Wild Rhubarb. The stems and leaves are high in vitamins A and C. Local native peoples boiled and served the leaves much like spinach and cooked the stems like young rhubarb.

    Globemallow Sphaeralcea angustifolia
    Remnants of this plant have been found in many archeological sites in the Southwest. It was used in several ways including, chewing the stem like gum, a cure for dysentery, and smoked as a replacement for tobacco.

    Petroglyph National Monument - Contact

    Petroglyph National Monument
    Attn: Visitor Services
    6001 Unser Blvd. NW
    Albuquerque, NM 87120

    Visitor Information: 505-899-0205

    By Fax: 505-899-0207

    Las Imágenes Visitor Center

    Open All Year
    8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    We suggest all visitors stop at the visitor center to receive maps and current information.

    Closed on: New Years, Thanksgiving, and Christmas days. The visitor center typically closes at 2:00pm on Thanksgiving and Christmas eve's.


    Boca Negra Canyon

    Fees: $1 weekdays/$2 weekends

    Details: Per Private Vehicle parking fee charged by the City of Albuquerque. There is no charge for other areas within the Monument. Commercial Fees are charged by the City of Albuquerque. Please phone the city at (505) 873-6620 for rate information.

    RESERVATIONS: Reservations are not needed for individuals or families. For groups of 15 or more who request a ranger guided program contact: Interpretive Ranger (505) 899-0205 x338

    Petroglyph National Monument - Directions

    Petroglyph National Monument is located on the North West side of Albuquerque, New Mexico. To get to the visitor center you should take I-40 east or west depending on the direction you are traveling. Leave the interstate at Exit 154 traveling north on Unser Blvd. Approximatly 3.5 miles north you will find the visitor center at the junciton of Unser and Western Trail. Make a left hand turn at the light. Travel up the road to the parking lot for the visitor center.

    Piedras Marcadas Canyon

    From I-40 west of Albuquerque, take exit #154 / Unser Blvd and head north on Unser Blvd. Continue on Unser for several miles, passing the Visitor Center and Boca Negra Canyon. Unser will become Universe Blvd. At Paseo Del Norte Road, turn right (east) and continue on Paseo Del Norte until you reach Golf Course Road. Turn left on Golf Course Road and a short distance later turn left on Jill Patricia Street. The trailhead parking lot will be on your right hand side, off of Jill Patricia Street.

    Albuquerque Volcanoes

    From I-40 west of Albuquerque, take exit #149 and head north on Paseo Del Volcan for 4.8 miles to the unpaved Volcanoes Access Road. Turn right onto the access road and drive straight ahead for a few hundred yards to the trailhead. If the gate is closed, you can park in the first parking lot. If the gate is open, you can drive to the second parking lot where the trailhead is located. Parking in the first lot does not add any significant length.

    Rinconada Canyon

    From I-40, exit onto Unser Boulevard (exit # 154) and head north. After about 2 miles you'll come to St. Joseph Avenue. Turn left you will see the parking lot and trailhead of Rinconada Canyon.

    Boca Negra Canyon

    Boca Negra Canyon is just off Unser Boulevard, 1/4 mile north of Montaño Road. From I-40, exit at Unser Blvd and head north on Unser for about 3 miles. A quarter mile after crossing Montaño Road, you will see signs for Boca Negra Canyon on the right hand side. Turn right into Boca Negra Canyon, pay the attendant at the fee station and then park in one of the two available lots. The road through Boca Negra Canyon is a one-way loop. The first trailhead along the road is the Mesa Point Trail, followed by the Macaw and Cliff Base Trails located next to the restrooms.