Learn through history by visiting interesting historic sites around the state of New Mexico. Historic sites let you put a real face on the history that you've read about, making it more exciting for you and your children.
Historic Sites in New Mexico
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument offers a glimpse of the homes and lives of the people of the Mogollon culture who lived in the Gila Wilderness from the 1280s through the early 1300s. The surroundings probably look today very much like they did when the cliff dwellings were inhabited. It is surrounded by the Gila National Forest and lies at the edge of the Gila Wilderness, the nation's first designated wilderness area. This designation means that the wilderness character of the area will not be altered by the intrusion of roads or other evidence of human presence. Located 44 miles outside of Silver City.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Chaco Canyon was a major center of ancestral Puebloan culture between AD 850 and 1250. It was a hub of ceremony, trade, and administration for the prehistoric Four Corners area. Chaco is remarkable for its monumental public and ceremonial buildings, and its distinctive architecture. To construct the buildings, along with the associated Chacoan roads, ramps, dams, and mounds, required a great deal of well organized and skillful planning, designing, resource gathering, and construction. The Chacoan people combined pre-planned architectural designs, astronomical alignments, geometry, landscaping, and engineering to create an ancient urban center of spectacular public architecture. The Chacoan cultural sites are fragile and irreplaceable and represent a significant part of America's cultural heritage. The sites are part of the sacred homeland of Pueblo Indian peoples of New Mexico, the Hopi Indians of Arizona, and the Navajo Indians of the Southwest, all of whom continue to respect and honor them. Chaco Canyon is located in northwestern New Mexico.
Aztec Ruins National Monument
Aztec Ruins National Monument preserves structures and artifacts of Ancestral Pueblo people from the 1100's through 1200s. People associated with Chaco Canyon to the south built and used the structures, then people related to the Mesa Verde region to the north used the site in the 1200's. The monument was established in 1923, and designated a World Heritage Site in 1987.
Petroglyph National Monument
Petroglyph National Monument stretches 17 miles along Albuquerque's West Mesa, a volcanic basalt escarpment that dominates the city’s western horizon. It protects a variety of cultural and natural resources including five volcanic cones, hundreds of archeological sites and an estimated 25,000 images carved by native peoples and early Spanish settlers. Many of the images are recognizable as animals, people, brands and crosses; others are more complex.
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument
Once, thriving American Indian trade communities of Tiwa and Tompiro speaking Puebloans inhabited this remote frontier area of central New Mexico. Early in the 17th-century Spanish Franciscans found the area ripe for their missionary efforts. However, by the late 1670s the entire Salinas District, as the Spanish had named it, was depopulated of both Indian and Spaniard. What remains today are austere yet beautiful reminders of this earliest contact between Pueblo Indians and Spanish Colonials: the ruins of four mission churches, at Quarai, Abó, and Gran Quivira and the partially excavated pueblo of Las Humanas or, as it is known today, Gran Quivira. Established in 1980 through the combination of two New Mexico State Monuments and the former Gran Quivira National Monument, the present Monument comprises a total of 1,100 acres.
Bandelier National Monument
Best known for mesas, sheer-walled canyons, and the ancestral Pueblo dwellings found among them, Bandelier also includes over 23,000 acres of designated Wilderness. It was named for Adolph Bandelier, a 19th-century anthropologist. Bandelier National Monument is located near Los Alamos.
Fort Union National Monument
Fort Union was established in 1851 by Lieutenant Colonel Edwin V. Sumner as a guardian and protector of the Santa Fe Trail. During its forty-year history, three different forts were constructed close together. The third and final Fort Union was the largest in the American Southwest, and functioned as a military garrison, territorial arsenal, and military supply depot for the southwest. Today, visitors use a self-guided tour path to visit the second fort and the large, impressive ruins of the third Fort Union. The largest visible network of Santa Fe Trail ruts can be seen here. Fort Union is located near Watrous.
Pecos National Historical Park
Pecos preserves 12,000 years of history including the ancient pueblo of Pecos, two Spanish Colonial Missions, Santa Fe Trail sites, 20th century ranch history of Forked Lightning Ranch, and the site of the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass.
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