History of The Three Rivers Petroglyph Site

The Jornada Mogollon people are thought to have descended from nomadic peoples who inhabited south-central New Mexico from approximately 5000 B.C.. By A.D. 900, the Jornada Mogollon had established villages around what is currently Three Rivers, New Mexico. These people subsisted by agriculture, hunting wild game, and by gathering edible desert plants, such as mesquite seeds, prickly pear cactus, and yucca. The year-round supply of water draining from the slopes 12,003 ft. Sierra Blanca towering to the east allowed these people to grow corn, squash, and beans. Extensive trade routes linked the Jornada Mogollon to other cultures to the north, south, and west. A severe drought at the end of the thirteenth century is often cited as the cause of the decline of the Jornada Mogollon culture. By 1400 A.D. the sites around Three Rivers had been abandoned.


The rock carvings at this site were made with stone tools. Many of the designs are similar to the Mimbres style prevalent in Southwestern New Mexico. Archaeologists are not certain what all of the symbols found at Three Rivers signify. They are thought to have religious meanings, or perhaps were used to record significant events.

The petroglyphs are located on a ridge overlooking the Jornada De Muerto (Desert of Death). To the west is the beautiful Tularosa Basin. Along the western horizon stand the San Andres mountains, the glistening white sand of White Sands National Monumement at their base. Tower overhead to the east is 12,003 ft. Sierra Blanca mountain.


Back to Three Rivers Petroglyph Site

[New Mexico Flag] Back to VIVA! New Mexico


Last modified December 21, 1994.
Ron Wayne Green
viva@swcp.com