Albuquerque Volcanoes - The Three Sisters, Volcanoes Day Use Area, Petroglyph National Monument, New Mexico
Albuquerque Volcanoes - The Three Sisters - 2.0 miles
Volcanoes Day Use Area
|Round-Trip Length:||2.0 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||5,835' - 5,835' (6,000' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+165' net elevation gain (+280' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Albuquerque Volcanoes - The Three Sisters - 2.0 Miles Round-Trip
The Volcanoes Day Use Area provides visitors with a very different experience from the rest of Petroglyph National Monument. This broad, flat and grassy area is known to locals in Albuquerque as "The Three Sisters" or the "Albuquerque Volcanoes".
Around 150,000 years ago, the Albuquerque area was a hot-bed of volcanic activity. Unlike traditional volcanoes which emit lava and gas from a central vertical vent, the Albuquerque Volcanoes were formed by Fissure Eruptions. These rare eruptions ooze magma out of thin, horizontal cracks in the Earth's crust that extend for miles along a more linear plane (5 miles long in this case). Fissure eruptions leave behind multiple 'cinder cones' which now appear as small hills spread across the Volcanoes Day Use Area. An example of an active fissure eruption is the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii.
While there are several short named trails such as the JA Volcano / Albuquerque Overlook, Black Volcano Loop and Vulcan Volcano Loop, the area is a criss-cross of trails which encircle the volcanos.
The main trail heads east from the parking lot. It will lead you to the first volcano named JA Volcano, and provides excellent views of Albuquerque and the Sandia Mountains. After reaching the first volcano, you are free to safely make your own way around the other volcanoes.
Do not expect to see petroglyphs on this trail as the Volcanoes Day Use Area provides a different and unique experience compared to the rest of the park.
Ancestral and modern Pueblo peoples believe that hiking to the top of the volcanic cones desecrates this landscape. Please respect this belief by not climbing on or to the top of the volcanoes.
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N35 07.835 W106 46.805 — Albuquerque Volcanoes Trailhead - The Three Sisters
- Ancestral and Modern Pueblo peoples believe that hiking to the top of the volcanic cones desecrates this landscape. Please respect this belief by not climbing on or to the top of the volcanoes
- This area is fully exposed, with no cover from the elements. Lightning can strike at anytime so please keep the weather forecast in mind. Weather can also change within minutes
- There are no petroglyphs on this trail. Rather, it is a lesson in the greater volcanic geology and creation of Petroglyph National Monument
- The volcanic rock you see is basalt. Basalt consists of the minerals olivine, plagioclase feldspar, pyroxene and magnetite.
Camping and Backpacking Information
There is no camping in the Volcanoes Day Use Area.
There is no fishing in the Volcanoes Day Use Area.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs are permitted on the trails provided they are on a leash, no longer than 6 feet, at all times. Bring a bag to pick-up after your dog and dispose of it in the trash receptacle. Remember to bring plenty of water for your dog(s) and it is illegal to leave them unattended in your vehicle or chained to a post at the trailhead
- This is a no-fee day-use area only. The area is gated after-hours
- Removing, defacing or destroying artifacts or rocks is illegal, and violators will be prosecuted to the highest extent of the law
- Ancestral and modern Pueblo peoples believe that hiking to the top of the volcanic cones desecrates this landscape. Please respect this belief by not climbing on or to the top of the volcanoes.
Directions to Trailhead
From I-40 west of Albuquerque, take exit #149 and head north on Paseo Del Volcan for 4.8 miles to the unpaved Volcanoes Access Road. Turn right onto the access road and drive straight ahead for a few hundred yards to the trailhead. If the gate is closed, you can park in the first parking lot. If the gate is open, you can drive to the second parking lot where the trailhead is located. Parking in the first lot does not add any significant length.
Petroglyph National Monument
Attn: Visitor Services
6001 Unser Blvd. NW
Albuquerque, NM 87120
Las Imagenes Visitor Center is open all year from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
*Closed on: New Years, Thanksgiving, and Christmas days. The visitor center typically closes at 2:00pm on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.