Santa Fe is New Mexico's lovely state capital, located within the gorgeous foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Though the town boasts wonderful Pueblo-style architecture and cultural opportunities to entertain visitors throughout the year, it also serves as a great launching-off spot for day trips to some of the state's most renowned natural areas, including stunning Bandelier National Monument and the massive volcanic field of Valles Caldera National Preserve. Lovely cities such as Albuquerque, Madrid, and Jemez Springs are known for their indigenous roots and art galleries, offering great opportunities to buy Native American pottery and artwork. Preserved Pueblo sites in the region include the National Historic Landmark-designated Acoma Pueblo, believed to the longest continuously-inhabited site in the United States. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.


1.Acoma Pueblo

Acoma Pueblo
© Ralf Broskvar/stock.adobe.com

Acoma Pueblo is a National Historic Landmark indigenous community located approximately an hour west of Albuquerque, home to the federally-recognized Acoma Pueblo indigenous tribe. The community is made up of four villages at Sky City, Anzac, Acomita, and McCartys, which are considered to be the United States' oldest continuously-inhabited community, having been occupied for more than 2,000 years. Approximately 4,000 tribal members live throughout the communities, including around 50 who still live within Sky City's primitive earthen homes or the 1640 San Estévan del Rey Mission. Indigenous Acoma guides offer tours of Sky City throughout the year, elaborating on the village's history and cultural significance. Visitors can also explore the lovely Sky City Cultural Center and Haak'u Museum, known for their amazing exhibits of Pueblo pottery and Southwestern indigenous art.

P.O. Box 310, Acoma Pueblo, 87034, Phone: 800-747-0181

Fun day trip ideas close to me, things to do this weekend, small towns, best weekend getaways: Ohio, From San Francisco, Weekend Getaways from NYC, Texas, Florida


2.Albuquerque

Albuquerque
© EKH-Pictures/stock.adobe.com


Albuquerque is the largest metropolis in New Mexico, located along the edge of the beautiful Sandia Mountain range on the banks of the Rio Grande River. The city, which sits at an elevation of nearly 6,700 feet above sea level, is known for its beautiful Old Town district, which is home to historic adobe buildings like the San Felipe de Neri Church. Visitors can explore family-friendly museums like the Albuquerque Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, and the Albuquerque Biological Park zoological complex. Live music performances are presented throughout the year at the Isleta Amphitheater and Tingley Coliseum. Each year, the city hosts annual special events like the International Balloon Fiesta, the world's largest hot-air balloon gathering, and the summertime New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fair.

Things to do near me, beaches with kids, romantic parks, unique places to visit: Sarasota, From Boston, OR, NC, From Houston, NJ, GA


3.Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument
© ablokhin/stock.adobe.com

Bandelier National Monument is a stunning national monument preserving over 33,000 acres of mesa and canyon terrain that surrounds an historic Ancestral Pueblo settlement, which was inhabited for hundreds of years prior to the arrival of Europeans in North America. After severe droughts in the region around 1550, the indigenous groups that lived in the area moved to the nearby Rio Grande region, where their descendants eventually became known as the Cochiti Pueblo. Today, visitors can explore preserved petroglyphs and village site archaeological excavations at Tsankawi and Frijoles Canyon, which can be traversed via self-guided nature trails. Cultural exhibits and documentary showings are offered at the park's visitor center, which presents ranger-led programming like walk and talk events and night sky programs.

15 Entrance RD, Los Alamos, NM 87544, Phone: 505-672-3861

You are reading "16 Best Day Trips & Small Towns in New Mexico" Back to Top

Long weekend getaways with friends near you, weather, best small towns, what should I do in for couples, cheap, with friends, nearby, open now, tonight, fun things to do near me: Poconos, NY, TN, MI, OC, All Inclusive, Family weekend getaways, NJ, NC, VA, TX, OH



4.Jemez Springs

Jemez Springs
© Henryk Sadura/stock.adobe.com


Jemez Springs is a charming village in Sandoval County, located at the site of the Jemez State Monument, which preserves the indigenous culture of the Pueblo of Jemez and the region's Spanish Colonial mission history. The village, which is located entirely within Santa Fe National Forest, sits on the banks of the Jemez River within picturesque San Diego Canyon's red rocks. Visitors can enjoy a plethora of outdoor recreational opportunities throughout the year, including opportunities for fishing, hiking, and cross-country skiing. The region's rich indigenous history is on display throughout the village, which is home to many family-owned and independent galleries and stores selling indigenous pottery and craft items. Visitors can also relax at several hot springs in the area, including Jemez Hot Springs and Jemez Springs Bath House.

Nearest romantic getaways today at night, local wedding venues, best small beach town, restaurants, when you are bored, outside, things to do with kids near me, how do I plan: Cincinnati, MD, OR Beaches, HI, Indoor Amusement Parks, Things to Do in Gatlinburg, WI, Orlando, Texas Beaches


5.Las Vegas New Mexico

Las Vegas New Mexico
© spiritofamerica/stock.adobe.com


Las Vegas New Mexico is a lovely town in San Miguel County, not to be confused with the popular Nevada resort town of the same name. The charming historic city is known for its beautiful northern New Mexico architecture and quaint Old Town Historic District, which is home to many bookstores, antique shops, cafes, and restaurants. More than 900 structures within the city are preserved on the National Register of Historic Places, many for their connection to the historic Santa Fe Trail. A number of outdoor recreational areas are located just minutes away, including the beautiful Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, Lake McAllister, Storrie Lake State Park, and Montezuma Hot Springs. Visitors can also camp at the Gallinas River's many campgrounds, relax in the city's beautiful Plaza Park, or explore the City of Las Vegas Museum, which showcases local history exhibits.

You are reading "16 Best Day Trips & Small Towns in New Mexico" Back to Top

Where should I go this weekend for fun, adventurous places to visit near me today, famous for, kid friendly, what can you do in for free, natural wonders: Iowa, WI, From New Orleans, ME, FL, Carlsbad, CA, Montauk, FL, Beaches near DC


6.Madrid

Madrid
© Schohn/stock.adobe.com


Madrid is a charming artist's community in Santa Fe County, located within the northeastern end of the Sandia Mountains just outside the city of Santa Fe. The city, which sits along the beautiful Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway, is technically classed as a ghost town due to its low population, but comes alive throughout the summer months as one of the Santa Fe region's top art destinations. Lovely art galleries and shops line New Mexico State Road 14, the town's main thoroughfare. Visitors can explore restored mining town-era attractions like the Miner's Amusement Hall or peruse delightful exhibits at the city's Coal Mining Museum. Dilapidated buildings on the city's outskirts are purportedly haunted, including the former Mine Shaft Tavern, many of which are believed to be haunted by the famed La Llorona spirit of Mexican legend. During the winter months, the town hosts its annual Christmas lighting event, which showcases spectacular light displays and nativity scenes.

Where can I go for top-rated things to see near me, fun things to do today, with toddler, social distancing, beach and last minute resort ideas for couples: Charleston WV, Pensacola, Baton Rouge, Colorado Springs, Dayton OH, Dauphin Island, Provincetown, New Orleans, Philadelphia, UT, AZ, From NYC, CO


7.Ojo Caliente Springs

Ojo Caliente Springs
© Shelley/stock.adobe.com

Ojo Caliente Springs is a delightful resort destination in northern New Mexico, known as a healing and relaxing gathering place for centuries. The resort is anchored around the beautiful Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs, which were discovered in the mid-19th century and operated as a major sanitarium and tourist attraction. Today, many of the resort's original buildings have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the 1868 Historic Bathhouse, the 1917 Historic Hotel, and the 1924 Adobe Round Barn. Visitors can soak at the resort's rejuvenating hot springs, enjoy custom spa treatments, or explore the lovely hiking and biking trails set on the resort's 1,100-acre landscape. Delightful dining experiences are offered at the Artesian Restaurant, which serves up delicious seasonal Southwestern favorites.

50 Los Banos Drive, Ojo Caliente, NM 87549, Phone: 888-939-0007

Top things to see near me, beaches, cruises, underrated tourist attractions downtown, travel blog, family weekend breaks: East Coast Beaches, SC, Beaches near Orlando, Last Minute, NH, Houston, Palm Springs, Monterey, From Atlanta, GA, Sedona AZ


8.Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument
© Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com

Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is a gorgeous national monument preserving three of New Mexico's most famous Spanish Catholic missions, constructed between 1622 and 1635 in the state's Mountainair region. The monument was originally established as the Gran Quivira National Monument in 1909, preserving the celebrated ruins of the historic Gran Quivira Mission, the largest Christian church ruin site in the United States. Today, the park also protects the Mission of San Gregoiro de Abó at its Abó Unit and the Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Concepcion de Quarai Mission at its Quarai Unit. All three mission ruins can be explored as part of self-guided tours along interpretive trails, with visitor centers providing historical context on all three sites.

Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, PO Box 517, Mountainair, NM 87036-0517, Phone: 505-847-2585

You are reading "16 Best Day Trips & Small Towns in New Mexico this Weekend with Friends" Back to Top or More places to see near me

Where can you get away, luxury tourism, resorts & family weekend hotels to visit around me with kids, outdoor activities, on a budget, takeout, most popular small town, how to spend a day locally: Best caves in the U.S., SD, Galena IL, Boise, St. Pete, San Jose, Taos, Fayetteville, Steamboat Springs, NH, East Coast, DE, GA, Little Rock


9.The Sandia Peak Tramway

The Sandia Peak Tramway
© Amanda/stock.adobe.com

The Sandia Peak Tramway is the United States' longest aerial tramway, departing near Albuquerque and stretching over the crestline of the gorgeous Sandia Mountains. The tramway ascends from the city's western site to the Sandia Peak Ski Area, which sits just south of the Sandia Crest, at an elevation of over 10,000 feet above sea level. Riders can see some of the region's most beautiful sites, including the gorgeous skyline of the surrounding Cibola National Forest. Sunset rides provide unparalleled color and scenery, while autumn rides showcase gorgeous fall foliage. Atop the ski area, an observation deck provides 11,000-square-mile panoramic views of the nearby Land of Enchantment and Rio Grande Valley. Year-round recreational opportunities are offered, including opportunities for skiing and snowboarding throughout the winter months.

What to do near my location downtown at night in winter, summer, romantic getaways tomorrow, wedding venues, no-contact delivery, pickup, rainy day trips, best small beach towns to retire, open parks near me: UT, Indianapolis, From Kansas City, Mackinac Island, Chattanooga, Southwest vacations, RI, From Chicago, Sacramento, Nantucket, Girls Getaways, Santa Barbara, PA, Michigan beaches


10.El Santuario do Chimayo

El Santuario do Chimayo
© Nick Fox/stock.adobe.com

El Santuario do Chimayó is a beautiful National Historic Landmark Roman Catholic church in Chimayó, known as the United States' most important annual pilgrimage site for modern Catholic practitioners. The church is one of New Mexico's most-visited tourist attractions, hosting more than 300,000 visitors each year, including 30,000 visitors during Holy Week. It is famed for its Tierra Bendita holy dirt, which is located within a small hole near the main altar and has been believed to have miraculous healing powers for more than 200 years. The holy dirt has been acclaimed since 1810, when the Black Christ of Esquipulas crucifix was supposedly found within the dirt three times in a row without any church members moving it. Today, visitors from around the state and the nation make the trek to the church, many barefoot on foot, to demonstrate their religious devotion and pray for miracles.

15 Santuario Dr, Chimayo, NM 87522, Phone: 505-351-9961

"16 Best Day Trips & Small Towns in New Mexico for Locals & Tourists - Restaurants, Hotels" Back to Top or Beautiful places near me, Travel guide & More pictures of fun cheap vacation spots

What is there to do near me this weekend, East, West, North, South, cheap family vacation activities for birthday, hot tub, whirlpool, public transport by train, local bus, mountains, waterfalls, lakes, parks: Carmel, WA, UT, MN, Chicago, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, Kirkland, Taos, SoCal Camping, West Palm Beach, LA Beaches, Things to Do in Moab


11.Taos

Taos
© giumas/stock.adobe.com

Taos is a lovely city in New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo Mountains, named in honor of the nearby indigenous village Taos Pueblo, which translates as "place of red willows" in English. Many beautiful buildings within the city's center have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including restored sites connected to the region's early pioneer and Old West history. The city is also known as one of New Mexico's top artist colonies, home to over 80 art galleries that showcase lovely works and exhibitions in a variety of media throughout the year. The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation sponsors artists in residency each year, bringing in more artistic diversity. Near the city, the historic D.H. Lawrence Ranch preserves the 1920s-era home of the famous novelist, while the lovely Taos Valley region is known as one of the state's top skiing resort areas.

Cool places to go near me in spring, summer, fall, public beach near me for sunsets, 3-day foodie places to visit in September, October, November, December, RV, campground, scenic spots: Wichita, CT, CA, Corpus Christi, Best aquariums in the US, Hartford, NM, GA, NC, UT resorts, NM, LA, MI, DE, PA lakes, Barbados Beaches


12.Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
© traveller70/stock.adobe.com

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is a beautiful United States National Monument located just 45 minutes southwest of Santa Fe, overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. The monument is named for the Keresan Pueblo word for "white cliffs," showcasing spectacular cone-shaped tent rock formations that were produced from volcanic eruptions between six and seven million years ago. Today, spectacular hoodoo formations dot the monument's landscape, ranging in size from a few feet tall to over 90 feet. Visitors can explore the monument via a national recreation trail, which traverses elevations ranging from 5,570 to 6,760 feet above sea level. Segments of the trail provide opportunities for hiking and birdwatching, while others offer information on plant identification and geologic observation.

Rio Puerco Field Office, 100 Sun Avenue NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, Phone: 505-331-6259

Free things to do near me known for tourists & historical must see attractions for adults in April, May, June, July, August 2020, January, February, March, restaurants that deliver: Leavenworth WA, Day trips from Las Vegas, Norfolk, Treehouse vacations, San Jose, Mexico, Jacksonville Beaches, Travel credit card, WV, Woodstock, IL, Tampa Beaches, IN, Calistoga, Glowing Beaches


13.Tinkertown

Tinkertown
© Tinkertown

Tinkertown is a unique museum in Sandia Park, showcasing the elaborate handmade dioramas of the Old West crafted by wood carving artist Ross Ward. The 22-room museum was constructed entirely of glass bottles, crafted over the course of four decades. Delightful Western memorabilia lines the museum's exterior, including wagon wheels and pieces of Old West storefronts. Inside the museum, dioramas depict Old West scenes, including cowboys, saloons, indigenous groups, and native landscapes. Other unique item collections on display include antique tools and curiosities such as a quarter-loaded fortune teller, a bottle-crafted replica of the World's Tallest Man, and a 35-foot antique wooden sailboat that once sailed around the world over the course of a decade.

121 Sandia Crest Rd, Sandia Park, NM 87047, Phone: 505-281-5233

You are reading "16 Best Day Trips & Small Towns in New Mexico this Weekend" Back to Top

Top sights, 4 day road trip map, weather, 24 hour restaurants, 48 hours in, cheapest good restaurants for families with dogs, beaches near me, directions, events, spa resorts: Wedding venues in New Mexico, New Mexico vacation, Largest Cities in New Mexico, Elevation of Farmington, NM, New Mexico ruins, New Mexico Breweries, Utah Breweries, Where to Stay near Bryce, National Parks in Utah, Zion National Park Elevation, Ski Resorts Near Salt Lake City, Bangor, Maine vacation, Maine wedding venues, Drive in theater Maine, Lansing


14.Valles Caldera National Preserve

Valles Caldera National Preserve
© Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com

Valles Caldera National Preserve is anchored around the stunning 13-mile inactive volcanic caldera of the same name, which is located within the state's gorgeous Jemez Mountain range. The National Natural Landmark caldera, which has been protected as one of the state's top natural sites since 1975, has recently been transferred to the care of the National Park System as a national preserve site. Today, the site protects a number of area natural landmarks connected to the caldera, including massive 11,253-foot Redondo Peak, a significant resurgent lava dome. Visitors can use the park's extensive equestrian trail system throughout the year, which preserves trails created as part of the 1876 Baca Ranch. Many winter skiing opportunities are offered throughout the park's Valle Grande skiing region.

PO Box 359, Jemez Springs, NM 87025, Phone: 575-829-4100

Places to eat near me, free points of interest, lakes near me, waterfalls, weekend getaways near me: Hudson Valley, Honeymoon, Hermann, Hastings, Hanover, Deerfield


15.White Mesa

White Mesa
© photopixel/stock.adobe.com


White Mesa is one of New Mexico's most beautiful biking regions, located near the community of San Ysidro. The region is anchored by the lovely White Ridge Bike Trails Area and the splendid Ojito Wilderness, both of which are easily accessible via U.S. 550. Scenic geological features throughout both areas include rocky outcrops and stunning colored natural formations, which can be viewed from the area's beautiful trails. The mesa is named in honor of its beautiful gypsum mineral covering, which formed after the evaporation of an ancient body of water. Many fossil remains have been found throughout the region's Morrison Formation, including rare dinosaur, plant, and tree fossils that date back to the Jurassic Period. While the region's trails have been primarily developed for mountain biking, they are also open to hikers and mountain bikers.

White Mesa, New Mexico 87053

"16 Best Day Trips & Small Towns in New Mexico" Back to Top or Romantic Getaways, Wedding Ideas close to me this Weekend, Honeymoon, Anniversary Ideas, Getting Married & Romantic things to do, Places around me

Day trips from, good restaurants near me: Arlington, Park City, Southwest, Places to Visit in USA, Brattleboro VT, Maine lighthouses, St. Paul, Wyoming vacations, Des Moines, Luxury vacation, Disney resorts, Tallest roller coasters, Train Museums near me, Romantic Getaways St Augustine FL


16.White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument
© traveller70/stock.adobe.com


White Sands National Monument is a lovely national monument that protects one of New Mexico's most beautiful stretches of white sand dunes. The park, which is located near the city of Alamogordo, was established in 1933 to protect the world's largest gypsum mineral dune field, stretching across more than 275 square miles within the Tularosa Basin. Throughout the years, the gorgeous dunes have been featured in a number of classic Western films, including The Hired Hand and Four Faces West. Visitors can explore the dunes via four self-guided interpretive trails in the park, which are accessible throughout the year. Outdoor recreational opportunities offered include chances for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, sledding, and backcountry camping. Ranger-led programming is offered throughout the year by the park's visitor center, including nature walks and excursions.

PO Box 1086, Holloman AFB, NM 88330, Phone: 575-479-6124

Weekend getaways, top 10 things to do, places to visit near me:Things to Do in Bar Harbor, Sofia Hotels, Lithuania Hotels, Things to Do in Mystic CT, Rochester wedding, Syracuse wedding



16 Best Day Trips & Small Towns in New Mexico



More Ideas in NM: El Morro

El Morro is located in Ramah, New Mexico. Visitors to this national monument will enjoy its rich natural and cultural history. This National Park is free to the public, but visitors must adhere to operational hours for both the hiking trails and monument.

History

El Morro has a vibrant cultural history. The site was given national monument status through a proclamation made by the president in December of 1906, to protect the area’s historical importance and enact the beginnings of preservation on the inscriptions carved into the rock near the pool El Morro is known for. The pool has been an important resting area and water source for centuries. The water pool does not come from a natural spring, but rather accumulates from runoff, rainfall, and melting snow.

Those who have stopped at this point have carved names and messages into the rock next to a set of petroglyphs that were left by the Puebloans of ancient times. Some of the inscriptions were darkened with a pencil by the first superintendent of El Morro in the 1920's. This method of preservation is no longer used.

At the top of El Morro, visitors will find the remains of a large pueblo left in the 1500s. The pueblo is called Atsinna and was constructed approximately 1275 AD by early ancestors of the Zuni Native Americans. As the population of the West grew, El Morro became a resting point along the trail for those traveling and a sightseeing destination.

Things to Do

El Morro offers visitors several ways to explore the park and its history. More than 35,000 visitors hike the El Morro trails annually.

Hiking- There are several hiking trails for visitors to explore. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trails. The hiking trails increase in elevation up to 200 feet. Visitors can expect to encounter cottontails, chipmunks, gray fox, birds, snakes and lizards on the trails. Other animals that live at El Morro include coyotes, cougars, black bears, and bobcats. Most of these animals are not seen very often and only come out at night; however, snakes, lizards, rabbits, and ravens, are often seen.

- Inscription Trail- This trail is a half a mile paved, wheelchair accessible trail that leads to the famous pool. Along the trail visitors will see numerous Anglo and Spanish inscriptions as well as prehistoric petroglyphs. If visitors have energy and little more time after they have reached the pool, they can follow the trail past the pool and inscriptions to reach the top of the bluff.

- The Headland Trail- This trail is two miles long including the Inscription trail. The Headland Trail winds its way as the end of the Inscription Trail to the ridgetop. Visitors that reach this point will enjoy the breathtaking views of the Zuni Mountains, El Mapais’s volcanic craters, the valley of El Morro. The hike is slightly rugged with its two-hundred-and-fifty-foot elevation addition and uneven surface of sandstone. Visitors will need good walking shoes and water. The ruins of the Puebloan town Atsinna, meaning “place of writings on rock” are another reward for hiking the Headland Trail. This town was inhabited from 1275 AD to 1350 AD by about one thousand five hundred people living the eight hundred and seventy-five room Pueblo.

Visitor's Center- A visitor's center is found at the head of the inscription trail. This center is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's day. The visitor's center is open from 9am-6pm every day of the year with trails closing one hour before the center. Staffing and weather may affect these hours as well as the availability of accessible trails. Ice and snow do occur on the trails in the winter months and closures of the center and trail are possible. Park Rangers are also available at the visitor's center.

Ramah Navajo Reservation- Bordering El Morro National Monument is the Ramah Navajo Reservation. This reservation is part of the Navajo Nation. Ramah Navajo Reservation is home to approximately 900 families with more than half of the population being under the age of 25.

Educational Opportunities

There are often ranger programs offered at El Morro. Junior ranger programs are scheduled and curated by the national park service.

Accommodations

The area that El Morro National Monument is found is remote with a few miles of woods on either side. The only accommodations available while visiting El Morro are nine remote campsites with no hookups or facilities. There is water spigots available at each campsite; however, during winter months the water is turned off.

HC 61 Box 43 Ramah, New Mexico, 87321, Phone: 505-783-4226 x 801

More New Mexico ruins

You are reading "16 Best Day Trips & Small Towns in New Mexico " Back to Top

More Ideas in NM: Aztec Ruins National Monument

Aztec Ruins is a National Monument in Aztec, New Mexico, belonging to the Pueblo people, who lived in the area close to 1,000 years ago. A 900 year-old ancestral Great House, and a reconstructed ceremonial Great Kiva offer a look at the culture of the Pueblo Native Americans.

The Aztec Ruins Visitor Center is itself a historic building, the home of archeologist Earl Morris, who led the first digs at Aztec Ruins in 1916. Visits that begin at the Visitor Center may start with the 15-minute video, Aztec Ruins: Footprint of the Past, which speaks to the site’s history from the perspective of Native American scholars, archeologists, and others. The Visitor Center also houses a small museum with exhibits displaying some of the 900-year old artifacts recovered from the site. Items in the collection include pottery, an original wooden ladder, stone tools and textiles woven from the fibers of the Yucca plant.

From the Visitor Center, guests may take a self-guided tour of the three-story Great House ruins. The Great House is a 400 room structure of stone masonry built in the 11th century. The excavated west side of the ruins may be self toured with a 45 minute walk. The half-mile trail winds in and out of the Great House rooms, and offers a close up look of original masonry, extraordinarily well-preserved wood roofing, and even displays fingerprints of the builders in the original mortar.

A reconstructed Great Kiva is the world’s largest reconstructed building of its kind, with a diameter of over 40 feet. The building, which is partially underground, served as the site of political meetings and religious ceremonies, and is perhaps the first public-use building of the American southwest region. Great Kivas are among the largest and deepest of the Chaco culture Kivas, and always rise above the surrounding landscape, while smaller, Chaco-style Kivas are flush with the ground. They exist as stand alone buildings, separate from the Great House, and many contain vaults in the floor, believed to have been used for storage of foot drums used by ceremonial dancers. The Kiva at Aztec Ruins was first excavated by Earl Morris in 1921. He then returned to supervise its reconstruction in 1934.

History: The Aztec Ruins date back to sometime between the 11th and 12th century. Their name comes from a misidentification of the site by the earliest American settlers, who, in the early 1800’s believed that the Aztecs built them. In actuality, the site was built by Ancestral Puebloans, a Native American culture who once occupied much of the American Southwest, across what would be today’s Four Corners of Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and southwest Colorado.

Earl Morris was a University of Colorado archeologist who led the first digs at Aztec Ruins in 1916, at the young age of 25. Funded by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Morris spent several years excavating the west side of the Great House ruins, as well as supervising the reconstruction of the Great Kiva in 1934. In 1923 he married Ann Axtell, an archeologist and anthropologist from the University of Arizona. The two partnered on several digs throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s, including a trip to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula where they spent 5 seasons in Chichen Itza.

The site has been a National Monument since 1923. In 1987, it was designated a World Heritage site for its preservation of Chaco cultural heritage and achievements in Ancestral Puebloan engineering and architecture.

Ongoing Programs and Education: Ranger led guided tours are only available during the summer months, from May through September. A Heritage Garden and Native Plants Walk takes visitors on a short stroll through the gardens surrounding the Visitor Center. National Parks Service staff grow traditional corn, beans, amaranth, sunflowers and squash in the Heritage Garden, while the Native Plant Walk points out the variety of plants that the people of the region subsided on for hundreds of years.

Additional summer activities include Ranger led talks on Native American crafts, astronomy programs and full moon tours, as well as guided tours of areas of the park normally closed to the public, such as the unexcavated east ruins of the Great House.

What’s Nearby: The National Monument is easily accessible, as it is located on the New Mexico’s Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway, close to the town of Aztec. The route includes the Chaco Culture National Historic Park among several other sites that preserve the 13,000-year old history of the area.

725 Ruins Rd, Aztec, NM 87410, Phone: 505-334-6174

More New Mexico ruins

You are reading "16 Best Day Trips & Small Towns in New Mexico " Back to Top

More Ideas in NM: Fort Union

The Fort Union National Monument is located outside of Watrous, New Mexico. As both a gorgeous natural environment and a vivid part of this country’s historical landscape, Fort Union offers exhibits about the fort and walking trails for its visitors.

History

Fort Union’s history begins in the mid-nineteenth century, after New Mexico became the territory of the United States. Established to protect the Santa Fe Trail, Fort Union eventually became the largest fort in the Southwest. Once railroads replaced the Santa Fe Trail, however, Fort Union ceased to be useful. Buildings fell into disrepair; by 1891, the fort was closed.

In a preservation effort, the land, fort, and ruins of previous facilities became the Fort Union National Monument in 1956, and today, visitors from all over the country come for the beautiful sights and fascinating history of the area.

Permanent Attractions

Visitors to the Fort Union National Monument can expect to find a variety of permanent offerings.

Fort Tour: Guided by a park ranger, visitors can explore the monument grounds and learn about Fort Union’s role in the history of New Mexico and the country as a whole. The tours covers a half-mile of the monument’s grounds and are offered daily. No reservations are required.

Orientation: Visitors with limited time may choose to skip the Fort Tour in favor of the Fort Orientation. This shorter program still offers information about Fort Union’s history, but is far shorter than a full tour.

Artillery Firing Demonstration: This program is perfect for history buffs visiting the park. Dressed in attire from the Civil War, trained individuals fire a nineteenth-century canon. This event is available only at certain times of the year; interested guests should contact Fort Union for more information.

Ranger-led Talks: At different points each day, park rangers offer presentations about their areas of expertise. Each talk is 20 minutes long, and the schedule varies daily. For a specific schedule, guests are encouraged to visit the Visitor Center or call Fort Union.

Bugle Calls: Reconstructed from Fort Union’s time as a military post, the park offers a schedule of bugle calls throughout the day to help visitors immerse themselves in the history of the monument.

Educational Opportunities

Fort Union is committed to providing educational opportunities to its young visitors.

As a national monument, Fort Union is a part of the annual Every Kid in a Parkinitiative. Starting during September of a student’s fourth grade year and ending the following August, this program allows American ten-year-olds (including home-schooled students) to present a voucher at Fort Union (as well as other national parks) to cover any entrance fees.

Educators can seek resources from the PARK Teachers Program, which is available from Fort Union. This professional development opportunity provides pre-service teachers with a teaching module that enhances their skills and increases their content knowledge.

Fort Union is also involved in the Bureau of Land Management’s Junior Explorer program. This program aims to educate to young people about the various lands managed by the BLM. Educational materials and fun booklets guide children through the historical and natural elements of Fort Union. This program gives young visitors the tools they need to become respectful visitors of national monuments, while also encouraging them to have fun. These materials can be obtained at Fort Union or on the Bureau of Land Management’s website.

School groups looking for guided tours should call to make reservations.

Special Events

At Fort Union, a variety of special events are available to visitors throughout the year.

Between March and October each year, Fort Union offers the Glimpses of the Past Series.Created by the Fort Union National Monument, the Santa Fe National Historic Trail, the Las Vegas Citizen’s Committee for Historic Preservation, and the Friends of Fort Union, this series offers compelling presentations about the history of the area, highlighting topics like fashion, wildlife, and influential figures. Visit Fort Union’s website for an updated schedule of these programs.

The annual Fort Union Days festival occurs each year on the grounds of the Fort Union National Monument. Guest speakers, reenactments, and delicious food are offered during this event. For more information about this year’s event, visitors should contact the Fort Union National Monument or visit their website.

Special tours and commemorative celebrations are available each year. Fort Union offers an updated event schedule on its website each year.

Dining and Shopping

Water fountains are available within Fort Union’s Visitor Center, but sit-down dining and shopping are not provided within the park. However, visitors are encouraged to bring bottled water as well as snacks or a bagged lunch to fuel them during their trip. Next to the Visitor Center, guests can enjoy their food in the covered picnic pavilion.

3115 NM Highway 161, Watrous, NM 87753, Phone: 505-425-8025

More New Mexico ruins

You are reading "16 Best Day Trips & Small Towns in New Mexico " Back to Top