Petroglyph Point Trail

Red-colored sandstone with pecked geographic, animal, and human figures.
The petroglyph panel located 1.4 miles (2.3 km) from the Petroglyph Point Trailhead.

NPS/Robert Jensen

Quick Facts
Trailhead is located near the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum

Parking - Auto, Parking - Bus/RV, Restroom, Trailhead/Hiker Register

The Petroglyph Point Trail offers excellent views of Spruce and Navajo Canyons and takes you past a large petroglyph panel located 1.4 miles (2.3 km) south of the trailhead. 

The trail follows a foot-worn trail of the Ancestral Pueblo people into the forested Spruce Canyon landscape and along a sometimes steep, rocky path back to the canyon’s rim. At one time, this path connected the community at Spruce Tree House with other outlying sites within the canyon and the rest of the Pueblo world.

The large petroglyph panel seen along the trail, represents the written language of the people who inhabited and traveled through this canyon. More than thirty human and animal figures, spirals, and handprints cover an area of over 35 feet wide. Please do not touch the panel. Petroglyphs are fragile, non-renewable cultural resources that, once damaged, can never be repaired or replaced. 

Please respect these places by leaving archeological sites, artifacts, plants, and animals undisturbed for all those who follow you.

Trail Description

The 2.4-mile (3.9 km) loop trail is narrow, rugged, and rocky, with several steep drop-offs along the canyon wall on the way to the petroglyph panel. After the panel, you’ll scramble up a large stone staircase using hands and feet to climb to the top, then enjoy an easy return through forest to complete the loop. 

Be Prepared

  • Moderately Strenuous to Strenuous
  • You must register at either the trailhead or the museum. 
  • The gate at the trailhead for Petroglyph Point and Spruce Canyon Trails locks each evening, with hours varying seasonally. Check with a ranger for current times. Early morning hikers can begin the trail in reverse and the gate should be open when you finish. Late afternoon hikers can begin the trail before the gate closes and be aware that you must complete the loop in order to access the parking lot.
  • Access into Spruce Tree House is currently strictly prohibited due to danger of rock fall.

For Your Safety

  • Dehydration and altitude sickness are common problems at Mesa Verde. Drink water and rest often.
  • Avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day.
  • While hiking, remain on the trail and avoid walking along unstable cliff edges.
  • Please do not touch the petroglyphs; the oils on our skin can stain and permanently damage the images. 
  • Pets and bicycles are not allowed on the trail.
  • Please respect wildlife by observing them from a distance.
  • Trails are day-use only.

Trail Data

  •  2.4 miles (3.9 km) loop
  • 174 ft (53 m) elevation change
  • Allow about 2 hours to complete

Mesa Verde National Park

Last updated: April 5, 2024