OverviewBlack Volcano is the second tallest, but broadest of the volcanoes west of Albuquerque that are so familiar to people of the city. It rises just over 1000 feet above the Rio Grande that runs 4.5 miles to the east and almost 600 feet above the Rio Puerco that occasionally flows 10 miles to the west. Contained completely within Petroglyph National Monument, Black Volcano, as well as its neighbors, are protected landmarks preserved for many generations to come. The summit is approximately .75 miles of trail from the parking lot and requires about 200 feet of elevation gain. It can easily be tagged along with the other two volcanoes, Vulcan Volcano and JA Volcano.
The region around Albuquerque forms a rift valley much like that in the Red Sea, separating slowly for millennia and placing unimaginable tension on the crust below. Around 150,000 years ago, the Rio Grande and Rio Puerco Valleys were a highly active volcanic field with hundreds of vents. Together, they created the table-like uplift seen between the two valleys today as they spewed layer upon layer of lava much like the volcanoes of Hawaii.
After the vents quieted, erosion ate at the landscape eventually leading to the collapse of large portions of the eastern slopes to produce the escarpments seen today. It is the exposed basalt of these cliffs that hold much of the petroglyphs for which the monument is named. The dark surface of the rock proved to be exquisite canvasses for the native tribes in the area as well as the first Spanish people to come into the region.
Getting ThereTake I-40 west to Exit 149. Drive north 11 miles on Atrisco Vista Blvd., which was formerly known as Paseo del Volcan. The short road to the parking area is easily visible on the right from the main road. It is shortly after the turn-off to the shooting range, which is a left-hand turn.
Red TapeThe volcanoes day-use area of the Petroglyph National Monument is open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. May close early due to severe weather. Keep in mind that the gate to the parking lot is locked precisely at 5:00 pm and any vehicles left inside will be ticketed and/or towed. Since this is a desert, please stay on the trails to prevent destruction of the fragile flora that take ages to recuperate.
CampingNo camping is allowed within the national monument.
External LinksWeather per NOAA
Petroglyph National Monument