Petroglyph National Monument closing some trails after visitors move rocks, make cairns

Petroglyph National Monument closing some trails after visitors move rocks, make cairns

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Cairns are stacks of rocks that can act as trail markers, but recently they’ve been sparking debate at protected areas across the nation. Now, officials at Petroglyph National Monument say they are closing portions of trails because people have damaged the landscape with unauthorized cairns and moving rocks.

“We are closing off the very top portion of Mesa Point Trail and [the mesa top of] Boca Negra Canyon,” says Park Ranger Rachel Taylor. “It’s being closed off just because there’s an archaeological site up there, and it’s being disturbed.”

New federal oil and gas rule could impact New Mexico

“Basically, people are moving the rocks or removing them, and building cairns . . . and so, because we’ve had so much disturbance in that area, we are going to be closing that portion of the trail.”

The closure will go into effect on Monday April 29. Rachel Taylor says the closure will last for the foreseeable future to address what has been an increasingly common problem.

“Just a few people can ruin it for the rest, unfortunately,” Taylor says. “We’ll kind of reassess, probably yearly when we have consultations with the tribes, to see if they are okay with opening up that area.”

While some trail portions are closing, Taylor says Petroglyph National Monument has opened up new trail options as well.

New Mexico cannabis retailers reached new high for monthly sales, one retailer topping $1.4M

“There’s so many other opportunities for hiking. We just opened up another trail, actually, just south of the visitor center. It connects to Rinconada Canyon,” Taylor explains.

“We are one big archaeological site. There are actually over 350 documented archaeological sites in our monument, and so chances are if you pick up a rock, it might not look like anything to you, but it is most likely part of a larger archaeological site that you’re disturbing,” Taylor says. “We are – as we like to call it – a living cultural landscape. This is a very sacred site to 29 different tribes and pueblos. So, you know, a general rule would be to leave things as they are.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *