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    Tour New Mexico: an itinerary to discover the American Indians

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    Lluis Enric Mayans

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    It is often said that there are not many in the United States historical attractions; on the one hand it could be true, but on the other, such statements derive from a rather poor knowledge of the wonders that this immense country makes available to travelers.

    Here is a 7-day thematic itinerary (with Albuquerque as a departure and return stage) dedicated to the history and culture of American Indians (native populations, so to speak); a tour del New Mexico which will allow us to cross and explore historical evidence dating back to the XNUMXth century AD

    Here is the interactive map with all the stages of the itinerary. Immediately below you will find the scan of the individual days of this tour in New Mexico and, at the end of the article, a series of useful links for planning the itinerary (hotel reservations in the area and car rental). Are you ready to go?

    Day 1: Albuquerque to Chaco Culture National Historic Park

    From Albuquerque, travel north on US 550 to the Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Be prepared for a long and uncomfortable 16-mile dirt road ride (after County Road 7900/7950). Chaco Canyon it was once the home of the ancestral Pueblos peoples, and has been recognized as a World Heritage Site.

    Thirteen great ruins now dominate the canyon floor, and many of them are ancient kivas, places used by the tribe for religious functions or gatherings in the assembly. The intricate surrounding road network was the product of decidedly sophisticated engineering, so much so as to surprise even the most renowned archaeologists.

    Apparently, recent discoveries have spawned a new scientific field of research, called archaeoastronomy, and the entire Chaco Culture National Park complex has earned the nickname of Stonehenge of the American Southwest (and it's just one of several in the US, check it out for yourself at Nebraska's Stonehenge).

    Services or facilities are not available in the area, so, before leaving, bring water, food and anything else you may need with you.

    After your visit to Chaco Culture, continue north, still on US 550, and then west on Hwy 64. You will reach Farmington, the city the Navajo call Totah, “The meeting place of the waters,” book a room at a motel in town and spend the night in this quiet New Mexico town particularly popular with baseball fans.

    Giorno 2: Farmington e Aztec Ruins National Monument

    Travel east on Hwy 516 (14 miles) to visit Aztec Ruins National Monument, where you can admire some ancient ruins of over 900 years of the Pueblo people. Particularly interesting are the Great Kiva, the only one completely rebuilt in the entire American South-West, and the Great Pueblo House, which contained more than 400 masonry rooms.

    One morning will be more than enough to visit the Aztec Ruins National Monument; Return to Farmington in the afternoon, and spend the afternoon strolling and shopping at local outlets, which offer a wide range of Native American crafts.

    In the evening, enjoy a relaxing evening atOutdoor Summer Theater, a natural sandstone amphitheater. Concerts and performances of various kinds are held from mid-June until the first weekend of August, from Thursday to Sunday. You can also choose to have dinner there, before the show. For more information, call 800-448-1240.

    Days 3-4: Gallup and nearby attractions

    Now travel 130 miles south on Hwy 491 and arrive at Gallup, known as the "Heart of Indian Lands", both because it is in the midst of many Native American reservations, and because it is home to many tribes.

    The city, crossed by the legendary Route 66 travel route, is frequented by members of the Zuni, Hopi and Navajo tribes. There are many initiatives aimed at preserving native culture: for example the intertribal ceremonials of Red Rock State Park, the Indian dances that take place from the end of May to the first week of September and the Navajo Code Talkers Museum.

    In the surrounding area you can find truly fascinating attractions, such as Zuni Town, one of the New Mexico pueblos where the Zuni Indians still live, the El Morro National Monument, made famous by the great sandstone promontory that stands on a base of water at its base, the ancient resale Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, and the Canyon de Chelly National Monument.

    The ideal place to sleep is El Rancho Hotel & Motel, which has hosted numerous stars especially between the 40s and 50s, when the city was particularly beaten by Hollywood filmmakers engaged in their western productions.

    Days 5-6: The beauties surrounding Grants

    Grants, 70 miles east on I-40, is a great base for many interesting attractions:

    • New Mexico Mining Museum, where you can take a virtual trip to a uranium mine and relive the conditions of the miners
    • El Malpais National Monument, where you can admire the impact of ancient volcanic eruptions
    • Ice Caves and Bandera Crater, renamed the "land of fire and ice" due to the unusual coexistence of ice caves and a volcanic crater
    • Acoma Pueblo (Sky City), a charming and ancient village perched on an isolated plateau of over 1100 meters
    • The Arch Window, a spectacular natural arch of New Mexico.

    Day 7: Return to Albuquerque

    This tour in New Mexico dedicated to the discovery of the history and culture of American Indians concludes with the return to Albuquerque, 65 miles east, still on I-40.

    Useful resources for planning your New Mexico tour

    To carry out this itinerary you will essentially need 2 things: a rental car and hotel accommodation in the various areas / cities you will pass through. So here are two resources that I recommend you take a look at:

    1. Our guide to booking a USA car rental (with recommended resources for price verification and direct booking)
    2. An excellent resource for finding hotels in New Mexico cities (Albuquerque, Grants, Gallup, Farmington, etc ...)

    To discover all the other natural wonders of the state, we recommend that you read our article on what to see in New Mexico


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