On the horizon of the West Mesa stand the remnants of five cinder cone volcanoes. Formed over 100,000 years ago, the volcanoes were the dynamic finale to a series of fissure eruptions that coated the surrounding landscape in a basalt caprock.
To access the volcanoes exit I-40 at Paseo del Vulcan (exit 149) and travel north 4.8 miles to park access.
Rio Rancho Botanical Garden. I've come to visit this place and beside it, there's a huge park for kids wherein, everything is big! Big plants, flowers and even insects. You must come and see for yourself!
Petroglyph National Monument is a several area park nestled up to the Albuerqueque's resident volcanoes that protects a variety of cultural and natural resources including the volcanos, archeological sites and an estimated 20,000 carved images on the volcanic basalt rocks that litter the canyons, valleys, and hills. Most of these petroglyphs are pecked and are recognizable animals, people, brands and crosses; with others being more complex symbology. These images are inseparable from the cultural landscape, the spirits of the people who created, and who appreciate them. Start your tour at the small quaint visitor center, with a small kiosk explaining the park and the art, artifacts, and peoples who lived here ... grab maps for your hike and explorations ... and grab a gift or two for memories of your visit. On occasion, fresh kiva-baked bread is sold outside by the ovens from local tribes. We bought a loaf during our visit and it was phenomenally delicious. We went to the southern trails, at Rinconada Canyon for a 2 1/2 mile loop trail hike with over 400 rock art images in the area. Unfortunately, there was a lot of vandalism from locals varying from gunshot damage, litter of broken bottles, and graffitti people placed over the petroglyphs. Many of the American Indian petroglyph images were etched 300 to 700 years ago. The Spanish petroglyph images were etched 200 to 300 years ago by the 'hammer and chisel' methodology of pecking. The variety of petroglyphs was fabulous, but the condition was not. This park certainly needs more attention and monitoring. Rating 3 stars out of 5. Visited 11/30/08.
...unless you're chicken! Another travel tip for the daring: if you're in Albuquerque, and it's a full moon or close to it, and it's a clear night, why not take a moonlit hike? The air is so clear here that when the moon has risen high enough--that is, after 10 pm or so--you can see well enough to hike. Just don't get to close to the edge of the cliff, and if you hear something rattle, jump back. If you're a little leery, try hiking the 1 mile trail around the volcanoes. The ground is fairly even and the only vegetation is grass--no trees. My favorite trail to hike at night is the Sandia Crest Trail, which goes along the top of the Sandia Mountains. A little more dangerous but worth it--you can look down on the city lights or lose yourself (figuratively) in the woods. If you lose yourself, literally, go uphill--you'll get back to the crest eventually.
Pictures to follow, next full moon...
The Petroglyph National Monument looks like it's right in the middle of the city, but as soon as you get on the Rinconada Canyon trail you forget all about urban life. Take exit 154 north off of I-40 and drive to the Visitor Center first. Then drive a bit south and park for Rinconada Canyon. You won't believe how many petroglyphs you stumble across. Lots of redtail hawks too!
There are many hiking trails along the bosque of the Rio Grande river. The river winds its way through the city with a lush cottonwood forest following it. You don't have to leave the city to get completely away from the city. Unfortunately, due to drought the river is really drying up.
This area is covered with inscriptions on the rocks first placed by the indigeous people of the area and later by the Spanish settlers who followed the custom. The Spanish inscriptions are easier to recognize because they typically used crosses.
The park has a beautiful ranger station with lots of guidebooks, maps, and interesting information about the National Monument. The day that I was there, two local Native Americans were making drums from logs right on the property.
I was amused by the very big Rio Rancho Zoo. First time that I saw that different Zoo. There's no Zoo like that in my country.
RIO GRANDE ZOO. The colors of these flamingos look pretty amazing. Come join me in looking them!
It was about 100 F the morning that I began my hike. I was imagining falling and breaking a leg and then dying of thirst stranded in the hot sun!
I never could figure out why the sky was so huge in New Mexico. Every where I went I would look up in awe of the vastness of the sky over the desert.