Petroglyph National Monument stretches 17 miles along Albuquerque’s West Mesa, a volcanic basalt escarpment that dominates the city’s western horizon. This unique site protects a variety of cultural and natural resources, including five volcanic cones, hundreds of archeological sites, and an estimated 25,000 images that have been pecked, chiseled, or carved into the volcanic rock surface by native peoples and early Spanish settlers. Many of the images are recognizable as animals, people, brands, and crosses; others are more complex. Their meaning, possibly understood only by the carver, is inseparable from the greater cultural landscape and from the spirits of the people who created them. These people, who lived along the Rio Grande River for many centuries, come alive again through these images carved on the shiny black rocks and provide glimpses into a 12,000-yearlong story of human life in the area.