(Three Rivers NM)
The BLM manages the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, containing over 21,000 rock art carvings, and a partially excavated prehistoric native village. It is believed to be from the Jornada Mogollón people from around 1,000 years ago, or there about.

Hill with rocks in front of mountain

Petroglyphs Hillside

From the campground, a short flat trail into the desert takes you to the village ruins. There are just three uncovered foundations of native shelters. Nearby is a stream that would have provided water for the people, their crops and animals. Your imagination will have to suffice for how the village actually appeared.

Rock foundation of pit house

Pre-historic native village

Another trail goes up a hill where a multitude of petroglyphs can be found. It seemed like every other rock had a drawing; small, big and bigger rocks. Some images were clearly seen, and others barely visible. The larger rocks had multiple drawings.

Rock drawings by natives

Group of petroglyphs

There was some repetition in images, but none were identical. Most were stylized, but a few made an attempt at drawing naturally. Subjects included animals, reptiles, birds, people, sun, moon, clouds,  geometric designs, etc. Walking along the trail, I took 147 shots of petroglyphs; so, I probably missed a few.

Drawing on rock of goat

Petroglyph of a goat

Native drawing of a fish

Petroglyph of a fish

Most of the petroglyphs are concentrated in the first half mile of the trail; after that, they become sparse. There’s a shelter to rest at that point, and the return trip has a few side routes to take. Lots of looking and not much hiking. I stopped for a snack.
Designs on rocks by natives

Geometric petroglyphs

It appears that the native artists created an art museum on the hill near their village. Talk about culture! The day was overcast, cool and breezy so the hike was easy. I dry camped there for two days while I explored. Noone else camped, although several visited to see the glyphs. It’s well worth the trip if you like historical sites.


Camp: Three Rivers Petroglyph Site – BLM
Scene: Desert, petroglyph rocks, trails

Also see: 3 Rivers Petroglyphs Trail

6 Responses to Petroglyphs

  1. Gypsy February 24, 2014 at 2:32 am #

    Amazing that the petroglyphs are still there and so plainly visible. Makes you wonder about the intent of the people who made them – did they do it for artistic reasons, as a historical record, for pure enjoyment, or what?

    • Pleinguy February 24, 2014 at 2:49 am #

      That is something they don’t understand. They have never been able to decipher the symbols. Perhaps just a giant coloring book?

  2. Brad February 24, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    That one sure looks like a fish! 🙂

    • Pleinguy February 24, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

      It sure does Brad. There is a creek nearby, so the natives may have had a fishing hole.

  3. Dragonfly February 24, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    Love the pictures, I can almost hear a slight wind and the dry grasses brushing against the rocks. Brad, just a fish picture, not as sign pointing to a lake, although the rocks below that fish may indicate 4 by 4 needed, heavy duty all terrain tires. lol.

    • Pleinguy February 24, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

      The place does have a special feel to it. It’s amazing what they have done.

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