Cliff Base Trail at Boca Negra Canyon in the Petroglyph National Monument


1000 year-old petroglyphs await you on this short hike near Albuquerque. In spite of the hike being so short, it has a lot of interesting petroglyphs and lava formations.

Hike data:

Controlling agency: National Park Service; Petroglyph National Monument
Official URL:Petroglyph National Monument Boca Negra Canyon Trails
Region: Central; Albuquerque's west side.
start: 5229ft; 1594m end: 5239ft; 1597m
min: 5229ft; 1594m max: 5239ft; 1597m
elevation gain/loss: 9ft; 3m.
Length: 0.15mi; 0.24km.
surface: paved
condition: Good
ease of following: Easy
obstacles: None.
Fee: $2.00. The fee is $1.00 on weekdays and $2.00 on weekends.
Season: All year.
Dogs: No.
Bikes: No.
Handicapped accessible: No. Trails are not accessible, however, petrogyphs may be easily viewed from the McCaw/Cliff Base Trail shade ramada.
General notes: Morning light is probably best for this hike.

I would expect heavy usage based on our experience with the nearby Mesa Point Trail, which is heavily hiked.

The park service has an online map of the trail.

Trailhead facilities: flush toilet(s), picnic area, trash can(s), water.
Hike attractions: geology, history.

When we hiked it:

Date: 2003-01-26
Time it took us: 0:30.
Usage (people/hour): 0.00. We hiked right before park closing.
Cleanliness: 9.


Waypoint Type Description
BNCCBTTrailheadCliff Base trailhead at Boca Negra Canyon


Paper maps:
Map name Cartographer Year Scale Topo map? Online access Notes
Albuquerque New Mexico USGS 1983 1:100000 Y from (free)
Guide to Indian Country of Arizona Colorado New Mexico Utah Automobile Club of Southern California 1998 1:0 N from Amazon (purchase) Good overview road map for northwest NM. No scale is given on the map. The corner coordinates are approximate.
Wildernesses of New Mexico US Forest Service 1981 1:1000000 N No online copies. Base map with national forests, wilderness areas and highways.

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Getting to the trailhead:

From I-40 Westbound from Albuquerque, take exit 154 (Unser Blvd, State Highway 345). Head north on Unser for 4.6 miles. Just past Montaño where Unser is about to climb to the mesa top, turn right on Atrisco (which dead-ends on the mesa top, just past the entrance to another picnic area). Go another 0.3 miles. The entrance to the park is on the right.
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Go around the loop road until you see a sign indicating the parking area for this hike.

The parking lot is small, and you might have to park elsewhere and hike over to the trailhead. Trails lead between all of the parking areas, so this is not a problem. According to the map, overflow parking is near the building just outside the entrance. A sign indicates that it is bus and RV parking.

The trailhead is to the west (left as you look at it) of the toilet building.

About the hike:

This trail is short, but it has many good petroglyphs.
You can also see interesting lava formations.
Striped lava

Plants we saw along the trail:

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