SchoolArts Room

The Treasures of Three Rivers Petroglyphs

By Nancy Walkup, posted on Feb 20, 2018

On our way home from a trip to Austin, we drove up the middle of New Mexico to visit the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, located north of Tularosa. It has outstanding examples of prehistoric rock art made by the Jornada Mogollon people. The basaltic ridge contains over 21,000 petroglyphs including masks, sunbursts, wildlife, handprints, and geometric designs.




The petroglyphs here are dated back to between 900 and 1400 AD. Some of the petroglyph designs were different from any we had seen before, such as this geometric design pictured here.

We can only speculate as to the meaning of individual petroglyphs, but it is difficult not guess at what some might mean.


Most likely they were made at different times by different people. I always wonder about the status of the people who made them. Not everyone would have to talent to create these. Perhaps the makers were considered to be shamans or had a particular status among their people.


It is amazing to me to see these and realize how old they are and how difficult they must have been to make using only stone tools to scratch away the dark surface and reveal the lighter stone within.









It is always sad to see the damage people have made by trying to chip them away or shoot at them with guns.

The mountain you see in the distance should be covered with snow at this time of year but we have had almost none this winter.




An armadillo?








 Sometimes they are superimposed over previous petroglyphs.




A roadrunner?



This image is repeated frequently here. It could possibly represent a shield.


A fish?





Here we are at White Sands National Monument after picking up our new travel trailer in Austin. We are ready to hit the road West.