Acoma Pueblo Travel Guide

  • Typical street in Acoma
    Typical street in Acoma
    by toonsarah
  • View from the mesa top
    View from the mesa top
    by toonsarah
  • Acoma Pueblo
    by toonsarah

Acoma Pueblo Things to Do

  • The cemetery

    I have no pictures of the cemetery, as all photography of it is strictly forbidden, but it is too interesting a place not to mention it here. It lies in front of the church (out of shot on the left of my photo) and is even older than it. It was not part of the Acoma tradition to bury their dead, but with the adoption of some of the Spanish...

  • Church of San Esteban

    The most prominent building in the pueblo is the Church dedicated to San Esteban, that is St Stephen. It was built between 1629 and 1641 by the Acoma people under the direction of their Spanish conquerors. Some accounts say that the Spanish forced them to build the church, others that the people were grateful to the Catholic friar, Juan Ramirez,...

  • Cultural Centre and Haak'u Museum

    The Acoma Cultural Centre is not only the starting place for tours, it is also worth a visit in its own right. I loved the building itself, with its heavy doors (carved to resemble 19th century textiles) and restful interior. The Haak'u Museum displays not only traditional Acoma wares, especially pottery, but also hosts changing exhibitions of more...

  • Taking a tour

    To visit Acoma you have to take a tour, which start from the Cultural Centre. Tours cost $20 for adults, $12 for children and $17 for seniors and college students (late 2011 prices), with other discounts available for families and large groups. This fee includes permission to use one camera. Your camera will be tagged to show that you have paid, so...

  • Only option - take a tour

    Unless, let’s say you have a local girlfriend, there is no way you will climb the mesa unsupervised by a guide! The welcome center at the base of the rock is a modern facility with all conveniences and preliminary tune-up through educational movies. A much americanised obese woman sells tickets and explains the rules. The busses are stationed...

  • Acoma Visitor Center

    The visitor center is undergoing extensive rebuilding at this time, so is temporarily housed in trailers next to the construction zone. [I took a picture of the construction site, and the temporary digs .... but my picture disk decided to have 'issues' and I couldn't retrieve 'em ..... harumph! So months later I returned, and the spirits of Acoma...

  • Things to know: Enchanted Mesa

    If you look to the northeast from the village, you'll notice a small but distinctive butte in the distance. This is Mesa Encantada, former home to the Acoma and known as Katzimo in their Keresan language. Tribal history relates that when it was once occupied, there was only one very difficult route from the valley to the village perched 430 feet...

  • Taking the long way down

    This was fun. After the tour, you can either return to the visitor center by shuttle or climb down an ancient stair trail that was once one of the only ways to reach the top of the mesa. It's very steep (and probably very slippery in the rain) but handholds carved many centuries ago are still there to help you get a grip. This is the only place...

  • Things to see: hornos

    Before the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500's, pueblo bread was made from ground corn and cooked, tortilla style, on hot, flat stones. The Spanish introduced wheat and these beehive-shaped ovens for baking it. Seen all over the Southwest, hornos (OR-nos) can be made of sandstone, lava rock, adobe or a combination of the three. To heat them, a...


Acoma Pueblo Hotels

  • Sky City Casino Hotel

    Interstate 40, Exit 102, PO Box 310, Pueblo of Acoma, New Mexico, 87034, United States

    Satisfaction: Very Good

    Good for: Couples

Acoma Pueblo Restaurants

  • kymbanm's Profile Photo

    by kymbanm Updated Jul 1, 2005

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    As you tour Acoma Sky City, you'll pass vendors selling traditional and modern pottery, jewelry, and even some food and fluid :)

    You are discouraged from taking tour time away from others by stopping to partake in any of these during the tour itself. But after the tour is over, you can request a Vendor Guide to take you back to the vendor you want.

    We requested to be taken back to the Fry Bread Vendor! Yummmmmmm :)

    Favorite Dish: Each serving of fry bread is individually made and given to you piping hot. You can choose powdered sugar, honey, or cinamon sugar. Though I usually prefer honey on mine, I chose cinamon sugar as I didn't want to deal with the stickiness of the other :)

    For 2 bottled waters, and 2 fry breads we paid all of $4.00 - a DEAL!!!!! If you add the dollar I tipped our guide, we seriuosly munched out for all of $5.00.

    Tisha munchin' on Fry Bread ...
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    • Road Trip
    • Historical Travel
    • Family Travel

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Acoma Pueblo Transportation

  • Drive on over!

    At this time, the only way to get to Acoma Sky City is by driving .......... It's about 20-25 miles south of I-40, and about an hour from Albuquerque, a little longer of a drive from Gallup.The drive down I-40 is beautiful, and a worthy way to spend the day ....... red bluffs, black boulders, and beautiful southwestern brush frame the freeway...

  • How to get there

    Travel west from Albuquerque on Highway I-40 about 60 miles. Take exit 108 and go south on Indian Highway Route 23 for 12 miles. You know you are near when you see the Enchantment Mesa ahead of you on the highway. The Acoma Pueblo is on the next mesa just south of this one

  • Acoma Pueblo Hotels

    1 Hotels in Acoma Pueblo

Acoma Pueblo Shopping

  • Shopping for Acoma pottery

    If you do the tour of Acoma pueblo you will have numerous opportunities to purchase the traditional pottery. There are tables set up at strategic points on the tour with a local potter displaying their creations, and your guide will encourage you to examine these and will wait patiently for a few minutes at least while you do so – although if...

  • Silversmith

    The "shop" is a trailer parked at the access road to Acoma village on a promontory overlooking the valley with the Acoma mesa. Not a bad location. The problem is that it is so unassuming that it could easily be ignored. It should not be; the fellow artisan is working right there on the spot and there is no doubt that all the production is locally...

  • Acoma Pottery

    Indigenous people of the Southwest have been making pottery for thousands of years and each tribe developed a distinctive, traditional style. Acoma pottery is among the most beautiful: thin-walled and painted in elaborate black designs over the white clay or an orange-coated base. Each piece is different and our guide said they often have a story...


Acoma Pueblo Local Customs

  • A matriarchal society

    One of the interesting things I learned on the tour was that the Acoma have a matriarchal society; that is, the women are the more powerful sex. It is they who own the land, make the major family decisions and maintain the traditions of the tribe. The land and the family home are passed down to the youngest daughter, as it is thought that she will...

  • Life in Acoma

    To those of us used to “all mod cons” it may at first seem strange to us that the Acoma choose not to fully modernise their houses here in the pueblo. They could easily do so. Those elsewhere in the reservation, on the plain below, have all the facilities we might expect. There is a school, a fire station, offices for the tribal government, a hotel...

  • Kivas

    In this photo of a typical street in the pueblo you can see the distinctive ladders resting against the houses. The double ladder near the centre of the photo indicates that the building is a kiva or sacred building. Kiva ladders also have pointed tips, believed to pierce the clouds and bring rain. The ladder in photo two illustrates this belief,...


Acoma Pueblo Warnings and Dangers

  • Visitor etiquette

    The website (below) explains the etiquette rules for visitors to Acoma, and it is important that you read and abide by these. Think of it as a visit to another country, whose laws must be upheld and whose traditions respected.The rules are:~You MUST register for a guided tour in order to visit the Pueblo. ~Please stay with your tour guide at ALL...

  • Rules and Regulations

    When you are at Acoma, you are inside a recognized sovereign nation and subject to its laws. Pueblos or reservations that allow outside visitors have their own specific sets of rules regarding what you are - or are not - allowed to do so it's good to familiarize yourself with those of each pueblo before you go:• You MUST register for a tour to...

  • Respect tradition - follow the rules!!

    *Please stay on the pavement when descending from Sky City. *Please stay within the plaza and street areas, stay from restricted areas, and where off-limit signs are posted. (Restricted areas: water cisterns, cliff edges, behind the church). *Absolutely no video recorders/cameras are allowed at any time, and no still picture taking allowed on...


Acoma Pueblo Tourist Traps

  • glabah's Profile Photo

    by glabah Updated Jun 11, 2007

    "This permit MUST be attached to, and remain on your camera while taking pictures on the Acoma Indian Reservation. ABSOLUTELY NO PHOTOGRAPHY is permitted within the Mission and Cemetary walls. Permission must be obtained before taking pictures of any tribal member(s) and/or their artwork. Use of digital video cameras, tape recording, tripods, or other forms of video photography is STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Commercial use of any/all photography is STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Violators will have their film, disk, videotape and/or camera(s) confiscated and exposed."
    - Direct quote from the photo permit that must be obtained.

    In order to take photos on the Acoma Indian Reservation, it is necessary to get a photo permit (see sample from 2005 in photo). One must obtain one of these at the visitors center.

    The disappointing aspect of this is that you can't take legitimate photos of anything until you get to the visitors center in order to get the permit, and the area leading up to the visitor's center is very photogenic. Those you will have to get on the way back.

    The reasons for the photo permits are quite legitimate: people come and sometimes make money on the photos, and tourists cause wear and tear on the village and pathways. The "Tourist Trap" part of this has to do with the penalties if they find you taking photos without a permit.

    Also, the photo permits do not apply for inside of the church. It is considered a holy site, and therefore no photography at all is allowed inside it.

    Unique Suggestions: The photo permits are not expensive. Get one, or if you are really cheap have just one member of your group get one and share the photos this person takes, or share the camera and have a wide number of people using the same camera.

    Fun Alternatives: Each camera must have a permit to take photos here. There is no alternative. Just respect the laws of the reservation, and this is one of them.

    You must have a photo permit on the reservation.
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Photography

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Acoma Pueblo Off The Beaten Path

  • Red Sandstone Cliffs

    All of the cliffs and mesas around the area are red sandstone. This whole area used to be under a shallow sea.

  • More Detail of the Rock Formation

    Be careful of driving off of the highway on to reservation side roads. They are not very good and the natives expect you to get permission before doing so. Here is a close up of the formation.

  • On the Way to Acoma Pueblo

    I drove out to this rock formation which I found interesting as there was a whole in the side of the formation and to the left a rock balancing on another


Acoma Pueblo Sports & Outdoors

  • kymbanm's Profile Photo

    by kymbanm Updated Feb 28, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    If you look into the distance, you will see mountains. It is in these mountains that once a year outsiders are allowed to hunt on the native lands of the Acoma people.

    Though the inhabitants of Acoma are free to hunt year round ... outsiders can only hunt here if provided a permit. Permits are not provided except for during the gauranteed hunt.

    For $3,500 you are gauranteed a catch .... if you don't have a rifle, they will provide you with one ..... if you can't hit the broad side of a barn, they will shoot it for you .......... Your success is gauranteed.

    Equipment: Prices vary according to the type of hunt you desire ..... the least expensive is the Antelope Rifle hunt at 3,500$ for 4 days ... the most expensive is the Rifle Elk Hunt at $16,500 for a 5 day trip. They even have muzzleloader and archery hunts. Follow the link to their website for more detailed information.

    Hunting grounds in the distance...
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Acoma Pueblo Favorites

  • Water for Acoma

    The pueblo is built on a rocky mesa with almost no soil, so almost nothing of any size grows here, apart from a single tree which can be seen in my first photo. It is thought that this survives because of its proximity to the deep pool of water or cistern. In the past the inhabitants of Acoma relied on these cisterns for all their water supplies....

  • Houses of Acoma

    There are about 275 houses in the pueblo, although only around 30 people live here year round, mostly older people and pre-school children, who are often sent to live with grandparents so that they can learn the culture and traditions of the tribe from them. But all the houses are owned and cared for by an Acoma family, and the family will visit...

  • The Typical Pueblo Home

    The homes all appear in great shape. Even as we were there touring, some of the residents were refinishing adobe walls. The streets are absent of litter and clutter. The color tourquise is used on window and door trim supposely having power to ward off bad spirits.


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