Writing on the Rocks

by Mary Caperton Morton
Thursday, May 24, 2018

Visitors to White Sands should plan on making a slight detour to the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, an hour’s drive from the national monument. This scenic basalt ridge between White Sands and the White Mountains contains one of the greatest concentrations of petroglyphs anywhere in the Southwest. More than 21,000 petroglyphs of geometric and abstract shapes, faces and animals were etched into the dark rocks by the Jornada Mogollon people, who lived in this area between A.D. 1000 and 1400.

An easy 1.6-kilometer-long trail leads from a picnic area up along the ridge, linking many of the petroglyph sites. Another trail to the east of the picnic area leads to the ruins of a Mogollon village. The Three Rivers Petroglyph Site is located off U.S. Highway 54, northeast of White Sands, down a dirt road that is passable to all cars when dry. Camping is available farther down the road at the Three Rivers Campground.

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