Approx. 50 miles west of Albuquerque, located 15 miles south of I-40, the Acoma pueblo is considered on of the oldest, continously inhabited settlement in North America. It's located on top of a 367-foot mesa, and, along with its San Esteban del Rey Mission which was built in 1629, is listed on the federal register of historic places.
All visitors must report to the Visitor Center, where you pay applicable fees for a one hour guided tour of the pueblo, photography, etc.
The people of Salinas Pueblo Missions left the area over 300 years ago. They where believed to be decendents of the Anasazi and the Mogollon .... native ancestors known to be in the region over 7000 years ago.
These pueblos were agricultural centers and became large cities of stone with large plazas which contained spiritual places of worship and ceremony known as Kivas. Hundred of apartment-like rooms contained the inhabitants of each pueblo.
Early exploration of the New Mexico region ocured during the 1500's. By the 1600's, the riches of New Mexico were considered largely legend. The nearby salt field was considered a great find - but this was not enough to maintain the presence of the Spanish military in the region. Pope Phillip II had charged the Spanish crown with Christianizing the New World natives ... so regional missions were built and maintained at the cost of the government of Spain.
I love wandering ruins, and these have quickly become one of my favorites! What do I like about them ??... the surroundings, architecture, and spiritual feeling of these pueblos. I am a person who loves to wander about, and this is a wonderful, historical, yet natural series of places to do just that ..... wander about :) BTW-This is a day's trip to/from ABQ I take NM337 down, and US60 out ... so It's like a strange circle.
Driving directions from NPS website: To travel the historic highway route from the north, take I-40 east from Albuquerque to NM 337, drive south 54 miles to Mountainair. Information on the Quarai, Abo, and Gran Quivira ruins, as well as the surrounding area, are provided by National Park Service rangers at all three ruins and park headquarters.
Abo: Ruins are 9 miles west on US 60 and one-half mile north on NM 513. Telephone: (505) 847-2400.
Gran Quivira: Ruins are 26 miles south on NM 55. Telephone: (505) 847-2770.
Quarai: Ruins are 8 miles north on NM 55 and 1 mile west. Telephone: (505) 847-2290.