New Mexico II: Cañon Saladito and Three Rivers

January 18-19, 2020Part 2 of 3 from a five day, four night road trip through New Mexico

After spending a full day in the northern part of New Mexico, Chris and I drove south and found a spot to camp in the central part of the state about 50 miles south of Albuquerque. We entered Cibola National Forest well after dark and drove around on dirt roads until we found a place to camp that had cell service. We couldn’t actually find an established camp spot, so we set up our cots in the middle of a dead-end dirt road to avoid disturbing the ground, somewhere near Mexican Tank above Cañon Saladito. We were up before sunrise this time, and after breakfast hit the road again.

Camp near Cañon Saladito
Camp near Cañon Saladito

Pink light on Los Pinos Mountains
Pink light on Los Pinos Mountains

Our first stop was at some amazing petroglyphs in a different Cañon Saladito a few miles away–I think the USGS wasn’t very careful when making maps in New Mexico! We spent perhaps 45 minutes looking at the rock art before moving on.

Bird petroglyphs
Bird petroglyphs

Bird and footprints
Bird and footprints

Incised lines
Incised lines

Long, snake-like petroglyphs
Long, snake-like petroglyphs

Tiny human figure
Tiny human figure

Turtle glyph
Turtle glyph

Black pictograph figure
Black pictograph figure

Two figures with shields and spears
Two figures with shields and spears

Smaller snake glyph
Smaller snake glyph

Next we checked out the ruins at Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. We visited all three sites: Abo, Quarai, and Gran Quivira. It was certainly fascinating to learn about the history of these missions and to see the huge scale of their buildings, but I enjoyed the small, remote, and less touristy ruins we’d visited the day before much more.

Abo Ruins
Abo Ruins

Moon above a ruin
Moon above a ruin

Quarai Ruins
Quarai Ruins

Quarai Ruins
Quarai Ruins

Gran Quivira Ruins
Gran Quivira Ruins

Gran Quivira Ruins
Gran Quivira Ruins

After eating some lunch, we drove about 90 miles to the Three Rivers petroglyphs. We spent a couple of hours there viewing the rock art, though I’m sure that wasn’t nearly enough time. There was a lot to see there but we didn’t have the luxury of exploring for too long.

San Andres Mountains
San Andres Mountains

Fish petroglyph?
Fish petroglyph?

Petroglyph with Sierra Blanca on the horizon
Petroglyph with Sierra Blanca on the horizon

Human face petroglyph
Human face petroglyph

Half-face glyph
Half-face glyph

Impressive mountain lion petroglyph
Impressive mountain lion petroglyph

That evening we drove well over 100 miles to our next camp spot almost on the Texas border near Alamo Mountain.


Photo Gallery: New Mexico II: Cañon Saladito and Three Rivers