Prehistoric Trackways National Monument

Fossil Footprint at Prehistoric Trackways National Monument
Phone:
Address:

Las Cruces District Office 1800 Marquess Street Las Cruces, NM 88005

Latitude/Longitude:
32.37248028, -106.897435
Directions:
Coming from the North (I-25): At the Dona Ana Exit: From NM320 (Thorpe Road) in Doсa Ana, go west to US 85, then go north about a half a mile to Shalem Colony Road. Turn west on Shalem Colony Trail, which curves to the south. Go about 1.5 miles until you cross over the Rio Grande, and take a right onto county road, Rocky Acres Trail. After turning on Rocky Acres Trail, go approximately 1/4 mile, and then turn left onto the only dirt road (Permian Track Road) leading to the west. Cross over a cattleguard, and continue to the west. This road, past about a mile, is for high-clearance, 4wd vehicles only.

Coming from the South (Las Cruces): Travel on Picacho Ave./Hwy. 70, at the stop light with Shalem Colony Trail. Go north on Shalem Colony Trail for approximately 5.5 miles. Prior to reaching the Rio Grande, you will reach a county road, Rocky Acres Trail. Turn west on Rocky Acres Trail. Go west approximately 1/4 mile to a dirt road entrance on the left-hand side. Cross over a cattleguard and continue to the west. This road, past about a mile, is for high-clearance, 4wd vehicles only.
HIKING
HORSEBACK RIDING
OFF HIGHWAY VEHICLE
WILDLIFE VIEWING

Prehistoric Trackways National Monument

The Prehistoric Trackways National Monument was established in 2009 to conserve, protect, and enhance the unique and nationally-important paleontological, scientific, educational, scenic, and recreational resources and values of the Robledo Mountains in southern New Mexico. The Monument includes a major deposit of Paleozoic Era fossilized footprint megatrackways within approximately 5,280 acres.

The trackways contain footprints of numerous amphibians, reptiles, and insects (including previously unknown species), plants, and petrified wood dating back 280 million years, which collectively provide new opportunities to understand animal behaviors and environments from a time predating dinosaurs. The site contains one of the most scientifically-significant Early Permian track sites in the world.

There are opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and off highway vehicle driving in portions of the monument. However, viewing Trackway fossils is limited. At this time, there are no developed sites interpreting the fossils. To preserve them for ongoing and future scientific study, some trackway fossils have been removed and transported to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, making up the Jerry MacDonald Paleozoic Trackways Collection. Anyone interested in viewing these fascinating tracks can do so by visiting the Museum, which offers public tours of their Geoscience Collection, including the Trackways Collection, by reservation. The Las Cruces Museum of Nature and Science also has a 30 foot and a 15 foot trackway on display.

Adventure is at Your Fingertips

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

Season/Hours

  • Generally Open year-round.

Fees

  • None

Setting

The Prehistoric Trackways National Monument is located at an elevation of about 4,500 feet above sea level in the Robledo Mountains north of Las Cruces. This is a desert area in a series of canyons cut into the steep mountains, dominated by creosote. Rainfall averages 8.5 inches annually, with most coming during July, August, and September. Thunderstorms are a common occurrence and lightning poses a hazard to hikers. Average temperatures range from highs in the 90's to lows in the 20's. In warmer weather rattlesnakes are sometimes sighted in the canyons or heard under rocks so please be alert.

Special Rules

  • Motorized travel only on designated roads and trails.

RECREATION OPPORTUNITIES

There are opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and off highway vehicle driving in portions of the monument. However, viewing Trackway fossils is limited.  At this time, there are no developed sites interpreting the fossils.  To preserve them for ongoing and future scientific study, some trackway fossils have been removed and transported to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, making up the Jerry MacDonald Paleozoic Trackways Collection. Anyone interested in viewing these fascinating tracks can do so by visiting the Museum, which offers public tours of their Geoscience Collection, including the Trackways Collection, by reservation.  The Las Cruces Museum of Nature and Science also has a 30 foot and a 15 foot trackway on display.

FLICKR Slideshow

Prehistoric Trackways National Monument

New Mexico State Trust Land

Any public use of New Mexico State Trust Lands is strictly under the jurisdiction of the New Mexico State Land Office and requires a recreational access permit. 

For more information visit the New Mexico State Land Office.