Category Archives: Rock Art

New Mexico III: Alamo Mountain and Carlsbad Caverns

January 19-21, 2020Part 3 of 3 from a five day, four night road trip through New Mexico

Our last full day in New Mexico was the busiest. The previous evening Chris and I had driven about three hours from the Three Rivers petroglyphs to Alamo Mountain, including a worrisome wrong-turn that brought us through a border patrol checkpoint twice! We camped that evening at Alamo Windmill, only a few miles from the rock art we planned to visit on Monday morning. We drove toward the Alamo Mountain rock art site that morning only to find that the BLM restricts parking on the road for quite some distance from the most logical starting point for the hike. Fuck that shit.

Camp at Alamo Windmill
Camp at Alamo Windmill

You’re up, Chris
You're up, Chris

Tall yucca bloom
Tall yucca bloom

Fuck tha BLM
Fuck tha BLM

We walked down the stupid road and eventually reached where I thought the rock art might be. There wasn’t much info on the internet about the location, but I figured the petroglyphs would be concentrated around Alamo Spring, and I wasn’t wrong. We spent over two hours hiking and finding a lot of rock art, but we probably barely scratched the surface of what’s out there. On the way back to the Jeep we stopped at the Butterfield Stagecoach station with its stacked rock walls, as well as a more modern concrete tank full of tons of trash.

Alamo Mountain
Alamo Mountain

Heart-shaped cactus
Heart-shaped cactus

One of my favorite petroglyphs at Alamo Mountain
One of my favorite petroglyphs at Alamo Mountain

Butterfield Stagecoach station ruins
Butterfield Stagecoach station ruins

Concrete tank full of trash
Concrete tank full of trash

Old New Mexico license plate
Old New Mexico license plate

Next we drove southeast into Texas, which was my first time in that state. We encountered a B-17 crash site from 1944 where the pilot was from Utah. After finding a couple of geocaches in Texas, we pointed our way back north into New Mexico and stopped at Carlsbad Caverns.

B-17 crash site
B-17 crash site

Crossing into Texas
Crossing into Texas

Finding a geocache in a phone booth at the Salt Flat Cafe
Finding a geocache in a phone booth at the Salt Flat Cafe

It was late enough in the day that they only allowed access to the caverns from the elevator, so we rode it down and walked through the cave. I took a lot of hand-held photos inside but many of them were blurry.

We left the caverns just as they closed, and then drove for over three hours before finding a place to camp. We stopped in Roswell to buy beer and find a couple of geocaches. As we continued north, it became apparent that there weren’t many public lands in this part of New Mexico. We ended up squatting on some private property on a ranch outside of Encino. After having pork fajitas and fried potatoes and kielbasa the two previous nights, we enjoyed our final good meal of the trip–ribeye steaks after midnight.

Ribeye steak for dinner on our final night of the trip
Ribeye steak for dinner on our final night of the trip

We slept in the Jeep that night, just in case we needed to make a quick departure for some reason. Chris and I were up very early the next morning and hit the road after a hasty breakfast. We only stopped a couple of times on the way home: once to see some rock art between Kirtland and Waterflow, and again at the Four Corners monument, making five states we’d visited on this trip. We ran snow south of Monticello on US-191, which was reminiscent of the drive home from last year’s trip to Arizona, but at least Chris made it home at a decent hour this time.

Camp spot outside of Encino
Camp spot outside of Encino

Lone petroglyph between Kirtland and Waterflow
Lone petroglyph between Kirtland and Waterflow

Entering Arizona on US-64
Entering Arizona on US-64

Four Corners monument
Four Corners monument

Utah side of Four Corners
Utah side of Four Corners

Slick roads on US-191 south of Monticello
Slick roads on US-191 south of Monticello


Photo Gallery: New Mexico III: Alamo Mountain and Carlsbad Caverns