Mesa Point Trail at Boca Negra Canyon in the Petroglyph National Monument

Overview of the Mesa Point Trail
The Mesa Point Trail in Boca Negra Canyon is a nice trail near Albuquerque. You can view 1000 year-old petroglyphs, as well as get nice views of the city and the Sandia and Manzano Mountains.

Hike data:

Controlling agency: National Park Service; Petroglyph National Monument
Official URL:Petroglyph National Monument
Region: Central; Albuquerque's west side.
start: 5193ft; 1583m end: 5193ft; 1583m
min: 5193ft; 1583m max: 5308ft; 1618m
elevation gain/loss: 49ft; 15m.
Elevation change from GPS.
Length: 0.29mi; 0.47km. Out-and-back distance.
surface: paved
condition: Excellent
ease of following: Easy
obstacles: Since you are climbing the mesa, the trail has many steps.
Do not leave the trail; you will get a ticket. I saw rangers patrolling the area.
Fee: $2.00. When we visited, the fee was $1.00 on weekdays and $2.00 on weekends.
Season: All year.
Dogs: Unknown.
Bikes: No.
Handicapped accessible: No.
General notes: Most trailhead facilities are at the nearby Cliff Base trailhead, a short walk away.
Trailhead facilities: flush toilet(s), picnic area, trash can(s), water.
Hike attractions: geology, history.

When we hiked it:

Date: 2003-01-26 2009-01-08
Time it took us: 2:12. 0:46. Time spent actually moving and not looking was only 12 minutes.
Usage (people/hour): 0.00. People per hour not recorded. Usage was heavy. 49.30. Balloon Fiesta time has heavy usage.
Cleanliness: 9. 10. I picked up only one small piece of litter.


Waypoint Type Description
BNCMPTTrailheadMesa Point Trail trailhead at Boca Negra Canyon, Petroglyph National Monument


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 (Under Blvd, State Highway 345). Head north on Unser for 4.9 miles. The entrance to the park is on the right. As you go around the loop road, the parking area is (? verify) the first on the right. 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.
No short text

About the hike:

At the beginning of the trail, there are lots of petroglyphs. They decrease in density somewhat as you climb the mesa, but there are always plenty to look at.
The lighting is important to being able to see petroglyphs. You will probably see different petroglyphs in the morning than in the afternoon.
When you come to a junction, take it for more petroglyphs. The side trails all dead-end, but are good to take.

The trail leads to the mesa top. The signs request that you stay on the trail. Unfortunately, many people ignore the signs.

From the mesa top, you get a good view of the Sandia and Manzano mountains, as well as the city coming to the Park's edge.

Albuquerque and the Sandia Mountains
Backlit winterfat or white sage
While the petroglyphs are the main attraction, keep your eyes open for other interesting sights.

Plants we saw along the trail:

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