The Petroglyph Point trail is one of the many interpretive trails in Mesa Verde National Park. It is a short 2.8 mile loop with the largest panel of petroglyphs in the park. Located on Chapin Mesa, with sublime views of Spruce and Navajo canyons, the Petroglyph Trail is true to its namesake. It is the only trail that provides up close access to real petroglyphs left by the Anasazi people hundreds of years ago. This ancient Native American tribe built their homes into the cliffs of this area, and evidence of their habitation still exists all throughout the park.
What Makes It Great
The history and the beautiful scenery are what make this trail so enthralling. The path scales the cliff of the mesa, overlooking breathtaking high desert canyons and traversing across at mostly the same elevation. The tight spaces between rocks and boulders, along with rock formed stairs and ruins make this a fairly unconventional hike. There is just enough scrambling and climbing to make it fun and also challenging. Along with the amazing views of the canyons and mesas surrounding the trail, the chance to hike in a place with so much history is an honor.
Walking on some of the naturally constructed stairs, it feels as if you are literally walking in the shoes of these ancient and intriguing people. The petroglyphs are simply mesmerizing as well. The ability to get so close to these artifacts is unmatched in the rest of the park. Although we must remember to be respectful and help preserve these petroglyphs, it is a pleasure to be able to have such an interactive experience with the history of this beautiful area. There are even interpretive signs along the trail, that are paired with a short pamphlet of historical information to make things even more interesting.
Who is Going to Love It
Hikers with an interest in history, especially Native American history and culture, will enjoy this trail. The accessibility of such untouched historical landmarks like this is are a rare thing in America. Much of the country has changed drastically in the last century, but thanks to the National Parks Service, this area has been fairly well preserved. Despite the welcome centers, museums, and restaurants that come with a National Park, the park rangers at Mesa Verde have done an exemplary job at preserving the ruins and petroglyphs, and we are the beneficiaries. Really anyone interested in hiking at all will enjoy this trail. It is a fairly easy trail when it comes to elevation change, with a mere 500 foot difference from start to finish, so hikers at most skill levels will be able to complete it. The natural obstacles and resulting rock scramble will be sure to please even more experienced hikers.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
You can park in the Spruce Tree House Parking area of Mesa Verde National Park. The initial entrance fee is $15 in the summer, and $10 for the rest of the year. Getting to the trailhead can be tricky , so be sure to grab a map at the entrance station, and follow signs for the Spruce Tree House trail. The Petroglyph trail splits off from this trail. The National Park Service also requires you to sign in, which can be done at the museum.