Crow Canyon 44 Panel

Round Trip Distance: 1.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 6054 - 6134 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: 44 Panel
Fee: none
Attractions: Petroglyphs

The 44 Panel trail is located in the Crow Canyon Archaeological District near Bloomfield, New Mexico. Crow Canyon is located in an area the Navajo people call Dinetah which means 'among the Navajo' or 'among the people'. This is the area the Navajo people consider to be their ancestral homeland. The 44 Panel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Getting to the trailhead requires about 20 miles of off highway driving for which a high clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended for crossing Largo Wash. Travel east on Highway 64 from Bloomfield for about 8.5 miles and turn south on Country Road 4450 a little past the town of Blanco. Follow 4450 as it crosses Largo Wash on the 5 Mile bridge and continue for a total distance from the pavement of just under 19 miles. At this point there is a sign for Crow Canyon. Reset your odometer trip counter and turn left here. The road heads toward Largo Wash to a point where it makes a crossing. During wet weather this is a spot where a high clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle may be needed. When we crossed in our little 2-wheel drive vehicle there were water filled ruts about 6 inches deep. After surveying the situation you might say we 'gave 'er hell' and crossed without any problem. After crossing the wash turn left and continue driving until you have measured about a half mile from County Road 4450. Turn right at this point and drive to where the road ends at a well site. We had to park about a quarter mile away and begin hiking due to the road conditions which were perfect until we were almost to the trailhead.

The trail starts out as a single track that is well worn and easy to follow. Brown mylar trail markers occur often enough to reassure hikers that they are on the correct path.

After a short distance the trail enters the wash which it follows for the next half mile or so. Believe it or not there are even a trail marker or two in the wash itself.

As you come near to the bend in this picture where the canyon looks like it is going to fork and the mountain is in the background watch for a trail marker on the left that designates the spot where the trail leaves the wash. After leaving the wash continue following the markers up the bank and toward the petroglyphs. We actually began a loop here by re-entering a branch of the wash near the last panel of petroglyphs and rejoining the main trail at this point.

As the trail leads north begin looking up at the cliff. The trail passes several panels without actually getting near to them. Some of the images can be seen okay from the trail but for others you may want to scramble up the hillside to get a better look.

It was our understanding that most all of these petroglyphs are Navajo in origin and date back to the 16th thru 18th centuries.

To get to the 44 panel you need to keep following the trail around the base of the cliff toward the head of the side canyon.

This is the panel that gives the area its name. There are many other images that are very nice and depict what may be hunting scenes and such. There is even a faint image of a buffalo to the left of the 44's. It may be easier to see if you click on the picture and view the hi-res copy.

From the 44 panel you can drop down into the wash and follow it back out. It is a fun alternative to retracing your steps along the cliff and very easy to hike in that direction.

Just before getting to the trailhead on the access road there is a sign for the Crow Canyon Pueblito. What remains of the structure sits atop a boulder on the opposite side of the canyon. During a time of conflict with the Ute the Navajo built these defensive structures called pueblitos. A much better preserved one that is easier to hike to is in Simon Canyon near Navajo Lake.

Most of the dirt roads leading to Crow Canyon look very much like the road in this picture. If it wasn't for crossing Largo Wash most any vehicle could make the trip. The bottom can drop out of some of these roads in wet weather and during those conditions you should wait for another time even if you are in a 4-wheel drive. Due to the remoteness of the area and the lack of cellphone coverage visitors should have a full tank of fuel and be self sufficient. The 44 Panel petroglyphs are some of the best in the region. If they weren't so remote and difficult to get to we would have given them a 5 star rating. There are several other panels in Crow Canyon to visit while in the area as well as a few more sites further into Largo Wash. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.