Petroglyphs: Not Hard to Find in the U.S.

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Petroglyphs at the Reef Bay Trail in the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Flickr, by Molly Stevens)

Eight Spots in the United States Where You Can See Petroglyphs

by Jennifer Billock Smithsonian.com

Finding petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) in the United States has never really been that hard. Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque boasts more than 25,000 images—mostly humans, animals and tribal symbols—carved into volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago, and another obvious site, Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah, is famously known for life-size human figures and depictions of men fighting, painted between 900 and 2,000 years ago.

“We look at these images and symbols from people who traveled through the Rio Grande Valley hundreds and even thousands of years ago, yet they seem so distant that it is easy to think that they don’t matter,” says Susanna Villanueva, a park ranger at Petroglyph National Monument. “But when you hike along the trail and stand in front of a boulder with petroglyphs, you realize that this used to be their world and it was just as alive to them as ours is to us.

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