New Mexico November 29, 2017
You Must Add These Magnificent Ruins To Your New Mexico Bucket List
New Mexicans love their history, especially when they can visit a place and walk in the footsteps of those who came before. Despite being able to visit three spectacular pueblo ruins and Spanish mission remains at once, this National Monument in central New Mexico is one of the least-visited parks in the state. We think it’s time you took a look.
Hidden away in the heart of New Mexico, nestled amid rolling grasslands, are three historic sites, each with impressive remains of an ancient pueblo with a 17th-century Spanish mission built on the same site.
Situated roughly 30 miles apart, each site features a well-preserved ancient pueblo dating back hundreds of years before the arrival of the Europeans. In the 1600s, Spanish Franciscans built missions at the pueblos so they could convert the local Indians to Christianity.
All of the sites have been abandoned for hundreds of years and are now in ruins. However, because of their remote location, what remains of the pueblos and missions are well preserved.
The largest and most remote site, Gran Quivira, covers just over 600 acres. It has multiple pueblos, one of which is fully excavated. Plus, the site has the remains of two mission churches (though one was never completed). The Gran Quivira Ruins are 26 miles south of Mountainair, on New Mexico 55.
The Spanish reached the Abo pueblo in the 1580s and built the Mission of San Gregoiro de Abó years later in 1622. Some speculate that the mission incorporated a round, kiva-style structure into the church as a tool to help convert the natives, however, the facts are unknown.
Once a State of New Mexico historic site, Abo was taken over by the National Park Service in 1981 and incorporated into the Salinas National Monument.
About a 100 years after the Abo pueblo and mission were abandoned, Spanish settlers attempted to move back into the area, but they were chased out by Apaches. Finally, the settlers were able to re-inhabit Abo. Remains of their reoccupation
plazuela, or fortified ranch, can be found at Abo amid the pueblo and mission ruins.
The 370-acre Abó unit is located nine miles west of Mountainair on US 60 and one-half mile north on New Mexico 513.
A mission was established at the Quarai pueblo in 1626. Oddly, Quarai has a square kiva – another mystery of the Salinas pueblos.
At about 90-acres, the Quarai unit of Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is the smallest. These ruins are eight miles north of Mountainair on New Mexico 55 and one mile west.
Like the Abo site, Quarai was reoccupied by Spanish settlers after the site had been abandoned. The Lucero family was the first to move back to Quarai in the early 1820s.
The family utilized some of the original structures and also expanded the walls, but they were burned out by Apaches. Some of the Lucero family returned in the 1840s and constructed new structures including a torreon (tower) southeast of the mission. You can still see the Lucero structures today.
The Monument has a rich schedule of things to do for both children and adults. As well as educational programs and tours, enjoy picnicking, hiking and bird watching.
One popular event is the Dark Skies program. Check the Salinas National Monument
for a list of current programs.
The main visitor center is open daily 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The center includes a museum, a short, play-on-demand movie and gift store.
Find the main Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument visitor center
at 102 South Ripley Street, in Mountainair.
We know some of you have been to Salinas National Monument, or the ruins when they were part of the New Mexico park system. What would you like to tell others about the sites? Would you recommend a visit? Talk to us in the comments below.