I recently acquired a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Some would say it’s my mid-life crisis, but to me, it’s my mid-life freedom! My new 2016 Softail Slim S is named Bad Ass Flo, in honor of my mother Florence, whom we lost just a year ago. I’ve always wanted to own a Harley, but it didn’t make much sense living in downtown Chicago for 22 years. Now that I’m in Santa Fe, I’m taking Flo out when I have free time to discover all the charms of our Land of Enchantment, like a scenic road trip to La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site. I’ll record some of our adventures, so you can enjoy the many charms of our state that are “off the beaten track!”
La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site
Think graffiti is a recent phenomenon? Native Americans have been leaving their artwork for others to enjoy for hundreds of years in the Santa Fe area. Thousands of petroglyphs can be found along this mesa above the Santa Fe River. Most of the petroglyphs were placed there by Puebloan people living in the area between the 13th and 17th centuries. The descendants of these people now live down the Santa Fe River along the Rio Grande at the Cochiti and Santo Domingo Pueblos. Some of the panels are thought to go back to the Archaic Period (around 8000 to 2000 BCE but most of the images are Pueblo and date to between the 13th and 17th century.
The La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site is very close to the city of Santa Fe and a short hike off the Paseo Real. The area is overseen by the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. From the intersection of Airport Road and NM 599, continue west on Airport Road for 3.3 miles. There is a gravel parking area on the west side of the road and a BLM sign. Follow a trail marked by arrows for about five to ten minutes to access the canyon where the petroglyphs are located.
There are no facilities at the site and you want to wear good hiking shoes, bring water, and wear sunscreen! The best location for a good viewing of petroglyphs is to walk up the path towards the basalt cliffs and veer left and walk until you see an opening in the fence and follow the path through the border fence and up the boulder covered slopes. Small footpaths will lead you around. The rock art is generally near the top of the ridge, but look in every direction…up, over and alongside each boulder you see. There are petroglyphs in many places. A 1991 archeological survey recorded over 4,400 images within less than a mile from the site. Take your time and be careful too. The rocks can be loose or slippery depending on weather conditions. Be mindful to watch and listen for rattlesnakes.
All in all, this adventure and be thoroughly enjoyed with a half day allotment of time but you can travel to the site and hike to see a great concentration of petroglyphs in about 2 hours total time. The La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site provides wonderful views of our New Mexican countryside as well as native plant and wildlife.
Join us at our Santa Fe inn and explore this little piece of history and fuel you up for the day ahead with our full gourmet breakfast.