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    The Pueblos of New Mexico: Guide to Native American Villages

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    Lluis Enric Mayans
    @lluisenricmayans
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    wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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    I New Mexico town they are the privileged places to discover the history of the natives who inhabited these territories before the arrival of the Europeans. These small villages, in addition to providing a testimony of the past, continue to be active and lively communities.

    Visiting them in some cases is not a simple thing but, following our advice, you can prepare yourself and understand how to possibly insert these stages into your itinerary.

    Even if you are not particularly attracted by the history and traditions of the natives, do not a priori discard a stop in these Pueblos which, in most cases, manage to give enchanting landscape views.



    Index

    • The most important pueblos of New Mexico
      • Acoma Pueblo – Sky City
      • Taos Pueblo
      • Zuni Town
      • Cochiti Town
      • Jemez Pueblo
      • Nambe
    • The "minor" pueblos of New Mexico
      • Isleta Pueblo
      • Lagoon Town
      • Ohkay Owingeh
      • Picuris Town
      • Pojoaque Town
      • Watermelon Town
      • San Felipe Town
      • San Ildefonso Town
      • Santa Ana Town
      • Santa Clara Town
      • Santo Domingo Town
      • Tesuque Town
      • Zia Village

    The most important pueblos of New Mexico

    Some recommendations: in most Pueblos no photographs can be taken, unless you are explicitly authorized to do so or purchase a permit to do so. We recommend that you ask for information about the visitor centers or locals who will guide you. However, be respectful of the place where you are and respect the privacy of the people who still live in these places.
    I hanno people a substantially autonomous form of government and, as in most Indian reservations, you will almost always find a casino run by the locals which, especially in the less traveled pueblos from the tourist routes, provides the inhabitants with the main source of income.
    Also, we always recommend that you check the institutional sites of the Pueblos any days of closure to visitors or changes to the access rules.



    Acoma Pueblo – Sky City

    Most likely the most famous New Mexico Pueblo, also called Sky City for its privileged position on the Enchanted Mesa which stands on the surrounding area. Before the 50s, when a special road was built, it could only be reached via a stone staircase.

    Also known for being the oldest continuously inhabited town in the United States (according to scholars this place was inhabited since the XNUMXth century), today only about fifty people live on the Mesa, making it one of the least populated Pueblos in New Mexico.

    How to visit the Pueblo and what to see

    It can be visited but only through a tour with an Indian guide for a fee, as well as if you want to take photos you will have to buy one special permit. For any further information and to purchase your Acoma pass, please contact Sky City Cultural Center & Haak'u Museum. The general tour lasts almost two hours but it is possible to choose to visit the Mission alone. To find out the days when it is not possible to visit the Pueblo, the holidays and special occasions, the prices and departure times of the tours (on average every hour), we refer you to the official website.

    THEHaak'u Museum offers a decent collection of earthenware objects produced by the premises and both permanent and temporary exhibits illustrating the history of the Pueblo. The church of the Pueblo is the imposing Saint Stephen of the King built between 1629 and 1641.


    Where to sleep nearby

    The solutions for sleep nearby there are basically two:


    • rely directly on the Sky City Casino Hotel
    • look for a solution in the nearest cities like Grants and Albuquerque.

    Also, if you are traveling with a rental camper, it has recently opened its doors near the local lo casino Sky City RV Park.

    Taos Pueblo

    The multi-level Adobe houses that rise on the slopes of Sangre de Cristo Mountain are a sight that will surely remain etched in your minds for a long time… but also in your photos; it is in fact one of the few Pueblos that permette to take photographs non-professional for personal use without the need to pay a permit (the only prohibition applies to San Geronimo Chapel and members of the local tribe).

    The landscape was also a source of inspiration for a large colony of artists who settled in these areas, and inspired the architectural style of the Pueblo Revival that spread throughout New Mexico. That it is of a particular beauty is also certified by the fact that this is the only Pueblo that is placed in the UNESCO heritage.

    What to see and attractions in the surrounding area

    Also in this case in order to visit the Pueblo it is necessary to pay an entrance. For all information regarding access times, prices and days when the pueblo is off-limits, we refer you to the official website.


    Pay particular attention to respect the privacy of the premises, to follow the signs indicating the areas that are impossible to visit and not to climb the stairs that lead to the ceilings of the houses.

    The nearby one is also worth visiting town of Taos, very well cared for, which has managed to preserve the atmosphere of the place while managing at the same time to offer all the services a tourist needs: from restaurants to hotels, to shops selling local products. Among the museums that you can find, the Kit Carson Home and Museum, obtained from the house of the legendary character of the American Far West and the Millicent Rogers Museum, entirely dedicated to Native American art and culture.


    About 5 miles south of Taos, State Road 68 bisects the community of Taos ranches, which houses the pretty church of San Francisco de Asis (also reproduced in the works of the artist Georgia O'Keeffe) which, with its evocative architecture and the altarpiece inside, is definitely worth a short detour from your itinerary.

    Where to sleep nearby

    If you are looking for a solution to sleep thehotel offer of the area is very varied and most of the hotels reflect the characteristic architecture of the ancient Pueblo integrating perfectly with the surrounding environment. To get an overview of the hotels available, you can click the link below.

    Check out the hotels in Taos

    Zuni Town

    Located very close to the Arizona border, its 10.000+ inhabitants make it the Most populous Pueblo of the 19 in New Mexico. It is located in an area that offers remarkable views, in particular the splendid mesa stands out with its polychrome rock with red and white stripes.

    Thing offered the visit to the Town

    From the Visitor Center, in addition to obtaining general information about the area, you can book one of the 4 tours you can choose from:

    • Middle Village Walking Tour: Basic tour with a visit to the Pueblo accompanied by a local guide.
    • Archaeology Tour: Hawikuh (duration about two and a half hours): with this tour you will be taken to discover the plateau called Hawikuh, where the ancestors of the current inhabitants of Zuni had their first home. From here for the first time Europeans were spotted setting foot in this territory.
    • Archaeology Tour: Village of the Great Kivas (duration of at least 3 hours): with this tour you will go to explore the archaeological ruins of the so-called Great Kivas along the Chaco Canyon.
    • Traditional Zuni Meal: as you can guess from the name it is a complete meal with the traditional dishes of the natives.

    In case of religious / cultural events the tours will be suspended. Some tours require one early booking. For prices, timetables and reservations consult the official website.

    As for the photos you need to buy a specific permission, which will not automatically give you the right to photograph every corner of the Pueblo. So pay attention to the presence of any information signs and, if in doubt, ask your guide before taking the photo.

    Unfortunately the Old Zuni Mission it was closed to tourists until a later date due to the deterioration of the structure. For those who want to know more about the history of the place, the advice is to visit the Pueblo museum A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center which houses a large collection of archaeological finds.

    Look for a hotel near Zuni

    Cochiti Town

    One of the northernmost Pueblos in New Mexico. Given the proximity, the visit is recommended especially if you plan to visit the particular Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.

    The main attraction of the Pueblo, in addition to the ever-present Mission this time dedicated to Saint Bonaventure, and the Cochiti Lake formed thanks to the construction of a dam along the Rio Grande, very popular with the population of New Mexico.

    Very renowned are the drum which are built by the natives, so much so that they are reproduced in the official logo of the Pueblo as a real distinctive sign.

    Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks

    In this Pueblo the use of mobile phones is prohibited throughout the area, as well as taking pictures is prohibited and shoot video. The motivation given by the natives for these prohibitions is that, if an experience is really beautiful and authentic, there is no need to try to reproduce it artificially, but it is necessary to keep it in one's heart and mind. It may seem like a rhetorical phrase, but perhaps, thinking about it, it is difficult to blame him.

    For information regarding closures and any particular access conditions, the reference is always to the official website.

    Accomodation

    If you want to visit this pueblo it may be a good idea to have it as a base Santa Fe which is about a 40 minute drive from Cochiti.

    Search for a hotel in Santa Fe

    Jemez Pueblo

    Perhaps one of the most fascinating pueblos but, unfortunately, at the same time more difficult to visit. Among other things, it is the last outpost where the ancient Tewa language is still spoken.

    Surrounded by beautiful mesa of red rock it is in a strategic position if you plan to take the Jémez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway or visit the Jemez National Recreation Area.

    To see

    As we have mentioned, however, it is difficult to visit because, even if it is officially open to the public during holidays (despite some guides indicating specific days), for some time now the governing bodies of the Pueblo have decided not to publicly make known what these days are (as you can check from the official website). This is due to the lack of accommodation facilities which, together with the large influx of tourists, created unpleasant situations for the locals.

    On the other hand the Walatowa Visitor Center it is open to visitors all year round. You can then visit the Museum of History and Culture, which hosts permanent exhibitions on local history and culture, or request information on the excursions that depart to visit the Jemez Red Rocks. You can consult the opening hours on the official website. Of particular importance is also theOpen Air Market which usually takes place every year on the second weekend of October (but I invite you to check) and, in addition to attracting numerous exhibitors of native art, it is also an opportunity to attend traditional dance and music performances.

    Accomodation

    Unfortunately, there are not many solutions near the Pueblo of Jemez so the advice is to study your itinerary well and perhaps choose the city of Albuquerque as a starting point, which however is about an hour's drive away. To stay as close as possible, a good choice of hotels is offered by the town of Bernarillo, about half an hour's drive from Jemez.

    Nambe

    Still on the subject of unmissable views, we mention the last of the most representative Pueblos of New Mexico. In particular, this Pueblo stands out from the others for the presence of Nambe Falls Recreation Area. That is the waterfalls that make this area of ​​New Mexico particularly picturesque.

    Nambe Falls Recreation Area

    Once you arrive at the parking area you will find available two paths which will take you to admire the falls up close. With the first you will come to observe the panorama from above, with the other, after following the course of the river, you will arrive to skirt the lake admiring the part of the final path of the falls.

    The area is also equipped as a camping site with campers and for fishing. You will find all the information regarding opening hours and access prices by consulting the official website.

    Accomodation

    The pueblo is very close to the city of Santa Fe so we recommend choosing from the many solutions that you can find in the city.

    The "minor" pueblos of New Mexico

    Isleta Pueblo

    Apart from the pretty church of Saint Augustine, which is one of the oldest missions in all of New Mexico, Isleta doesn't have much else to offer to tourists who choose to visit it. This Pueblo, very close to Albuquerque, is best known for hosting one of the largest casinos in the state: the Isleta Resort & Casino, which can also be considered if you are looking for a solution to sleep in the area.

    Lagoon Town

    It has two peculiarities: that of being one of the “youngest” Pueblos in the state and at the same time also the wealthiest. This is due to the rich uranium mines found in the surrounding area. The Pueblo church is the white one San José Mission Church. In case you are traveling the stretch of Route 66 del New Mexico you will find yourself crossing this Pueblo and can therefore be a good opportunity for a stop. If, on the other hand, you are traveling west on I-40, and you don't want to make a detour, between exits 108 and 140 there is a lay-by from which you can see the white of the Mission in the distance.

    Ohkay Owingeh

    This Pueblo, whose name is difficult to pronounce, is of considerable historical importance. In fact, it was founded nearby in 1598 Spanish, the first capital of New Mexico, and the mission was the first building built in Adobe in this part of the state. Today, however, the church of San Juan Bautista, completely renovated in the neo-Gothic style in 1912, unfortunately retains almost nothing of the previous one, except the place where it was built.

    Picuris Town

    One of the Pueblos smaller of New Mexico, so much so that now only a small group of houses in Adobe remain as a testimony of its past. A curiosity concerns the church of San Lorenzo de Picuris, which over the years has been completely restored by hand by the inhabitants of the Pueblo, who so wanted to personally take care of this symbol of their history and culture.

    Pojoaque Town

    This Pueblo in the course of its history has been abandoned three times due to the chronic lack of water resources and land for agriculture. Today the Pooh Cultural Center strives to preserve cultural heritage by hosting exhibitions and events related to native culture. Pojoaque doesn't offer much more to tourists than the ubiquitous Cities of Gold casino.

    Watermelon Town

    Another small Pueblo, this time of just over 500 inhabitants, which rises along the Rio Grande north of Albuquerque. It may be worth a visit for the Well Wall Indian Market one of the largest native-run Indian art markets. The reserve for the protection of bison, which extends over 100 hectares, is also well-known at the state level.

    San Felipe Town

    The inhabitants of this Pueblo are known for their enthusiasm in trying to preserve their cultural heritage as much as possible. This characteristic of the natives finds prominence during the most important day of celebration, or the first of May, the day of San Felipe, when the inhabitants gather to dance and celebrate the Green Corn Dance. However, there are not many shops and accommodation facilities.

    San Ildefonso Town

    The main reason of notoriety of this Pueblo is that of having been the home of Maria Martinez, the most famous artisan of ceramics, whose works enjoy considerable notoriety among lovers of Indian art. There are many artisans who today in the Pueblo sell their works and the San Ildefonso Pueblo Museum contains various testimonies of these creations.

    Santa Ana Town

    If you are looking to visit a place to recall native history, I would say this Pueblo is not for you. Apart from some sporadic evidence of its past, this area has to offer mainly modern attractions such as the Santa Ana Star Casino, two golf courses, and numerous hotels and spas including the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa which can be a recommended choice only if you are looking for a place to relax along your itinerary.

    Santa Clara Town

    A pueblo that has its own peculiarity of rising near the historic ones cliff dwellings of Puye, or rather the ruins of houses built inside rock walls. If you know the Bandelier National Monument you will immediately understand what we are talking about. The inhabitants of Santa Clara offer the possibility of taking guided tours of the area, thus allowing you not only to be able to see a splendid spectacle of nature, but also to hear the story directly from the ancestors of the people who created these particular constructions.

    Santo Domingo Town

    The main attraction is the church in Adobe del Pueblo which in this case has the particularity of having the facade painted with colorful ornamental motifs. From its location near the turquoise mines its inhabitants have developed over the centuries a particular skill in creating jewels that you can admire or buy while visiting the Pueblo.

    Tesuque Town

    The most visited attraction around this Pueblo is the Camel Rock, or a rock that, as you can guess from the name, has a shape that resembles that of a camel. Many locals are drawn to the flea market Tesuque Pueblo Flea Market (which typically takes place every weekend between February and December, but we encourage you to check through the official channels) and the Camel Rock Casino.

    Zia Village

    This pueblo owes its fame mainly to being the origin of the symbol of the state of New Mexico. For the rest, in addition to a small visitor center, this agricultural community does not offer much else to tourists who find themselves passing through these parts.

     

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