Past Meetup

ROCK n SUN Hike to where they meet

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Experience a fine northern New Mexico winter and hike to a known petroglyph panel in search of an undiscovered sun marker. We'll visit one of 2 likely candidates depending on current weather, soil moisture, and road conditions.

The rocks at El Malpais NCA are full of surprises. Cross Quarter - a.k.a. Imbolc - occurs on February 3, at 8:57am. The sun's apparent path in the sky on 2/3 will be halfway between Winter Solstice and Vernal Equinox

Perform fine citizen science (thanks to Khondeh for this foto) as we search for a similar sun marker on Imbolc. This foto shows a high noon sun marker to our Option B on a winter solstice hike: Bring your cameras & please feel free to take & post fotos, so they can be forwarded to BLM archaeologists.

Hiking time will vary greatly depending on current conditions and the objective (option A or B). ALL HIKE OPTIONS ARE OFF TRAIL. PLEASE CONTACT A BLM-ER IF YOU NEED TO LEAVE THE SAFETY OF THE GROUP. Expect this to be a strenuous hike. If there is an unseasonably heavy snow dump, we may need gaiters, snow shoes &/or hiking/skiing poles. In any event, early February is always challenging and exciting. For some minutes we can be stripping winter clothes as we hike and heat up, then start adding them as we cool at naturalist stops. Wildlife tracking is at its best, so be vigilant and maybe we'll have a close encounter with some mega fauna.

Appreciate the artistry of the ancestors. ( is a previous meetup to our site A option.) Both rock art sites have many rich images. Although precise dating of rock art is difficult, we will unfold the history of the ancestral southwest and relate it to other familiar sites, like Chaco, Bandelier, Mesa Verde, Cahokia, Phoenix, & Mexico City.

Bask in the sun (we hope we get some) on Cretaceous shore lines with little worries for the sharks whose teeth we may observe. Ponder the cyclical inundation of the continents during times of global heating. Connect the sediments on which we tread with the CO2 we release driving to & fro.

Visit with respect. We will refrain from walking or climbing on or atop ancestral sites. We will approach gracefully and refrain from touching the rock art, disturbing any sites, as well as eating or drinking around these sites. Enjoy:

Be a responsible CO2 emitter and carpool if you can. The drive from ABQ's Big I is a little under 1.5 hours 1-way in ideal driving conditions. Come early and enjoy the ranger station exhibits and clean rest rooms. 4 WHEEL DRIVE IS HIGHLY ADVISED for the drive from the ranger station to trailhead.


0930 Depart the ranger station (station opens at 0830). Please be on time to avoid slowing the group. Carpool, if you got em

1000 Park at trail head


Part 1. Climb to site A. Vertical gain is 500 feet steepening sharply at the top. BRING: STURDY FOOTWEAR; if snow, bring traction (poles, waterproof footwear with traction) Horizontal distance is approximately 1/2 mile to petroglyphs. The vehicles are in site, if we choose this path.

Part 2. If we dont see signs of an imminent sun event, we will continue to a Pueblo III mesa-top site. Hike to Pueblo III structure (30+ rooms). Vertical gain is 250 feet, horizontal distance is approximately 0.7 miles.

If the snow is too deep, the dirt road too mushy, or the clouds preclude a sun event, we will park off the side of paved road. In this case we'll forego Part 1. and go directly to Part 2: hike directly to the mesa top. If the sun comes out, we will press on to the petroglyphs of Part 1 once we are on the mesa top.

Return via the mesa top, then descend steep terrain to the vehicles.

1430 End hike. Depart parking area


If snow levels are too deep, we'll visit a known equinoctal and solsticial marker, and discover if it is active at cross quarter. This is an easier hike than Option A in ordinary circumstances, but its choice means deeper snow and more challenging hiking. Parking is on tarmac off the highway.

1400 End hike. Depart parking area

CHECK BACK HERE Saturday 2/2 FOR WEATHER AND GEAR UPDATE; OR IN CASE OF CANCELLATION. If the weather is predicted to be inclement, then the trip will be cancelled on or before 2/2. Long range forecast:

GEAR Wear sturdy boots, warm outerwear, and gloves for ascending the mesa. Bring a lunch or snack and plenty of water. Bring a 4x4 or carpool with someone who has one. In the event of snow over a few inches deep, bring snow gear: poles, gaiters, traction boots or snowshoes. Be prepared for sub-freezing temperatures!

FORMALITIES BLM hikes are open to all and free of pets, firearms, and intoxicants. Walkers should be able to sustain walking for up to three 1 hour periods (with frequent stops) over 3 to 4 miles of variable terrain with up to 600 feet of elevation gain in snow.


To give all hopefulls an equal chance, each registrant will sign up individually. Please email with questions or call[masked].

Happy Trails!



Opinions & fotos:


And a past college class:

Other fotos:


American Rock Art Research Asso. meets in ABQ May 2013