Saturday, February 6, 2016

Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

Two days at Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument in central New Mexico spent exploring three Ancestral Puebloan sites and the Spanish Franciscan mission churches of the 1600s build on top of them.
Setting sun shining through a window at Abo.
Understanding the location is key here.  The Estancia Basin was once a huge lake during the Ice Age, but it dried up leaving behind salt flats— this is important because salt was valuable for use (especially nutrition and preserving meats and curing animal hides) and trade.  When the Spanish came, they shipped the salt south for use in extracting silver from ore.

This was a great place to visit with my parents.  The trails at each site were short, and there was much history to learn and discuss.
Me and Mom.

Gran Quivira was the largest and most extensive site even before the Spanish arrived.  Being the southernmost pueblo, it was a center for economic and cultural exchange.
Situated on top of a hilltop, you can see distant mountains all around from the courtyard beyond the kiva.
Abo was built of bright red sandstone
The spring at Abo provided year-round water.

The views at Quarai were dominated by the Manzanos Mountains.  Here, they spoke a language distinct from nearby Abo. Spanish priests used Quarai as the seat for the New Mexico Inquisition during the 1600s.
The Spanish missions lasted less than a century, and were abandoned prior to the Pueblo Revolt.  People left to join other pueblos due to many causes including drought, a smallpox outbreak, and famine.

I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the long drive to visit Salinas, but my family and I were really impressed by all three sites and with each of the museums associated with each site.  We had an especially knowledgable and interesting ranger at Abo, and talking to her was a highlight of the visit.  But also we were surprised by the variety of environments that made each individual place special—the cottonwoods at Quarai, the view at Gran Quivira, the birds splashing in the water at Abo.  All made for an interesting and enjoyable visit.

More Information

The monument headquarters, with the largest museum and the video, are centrally located in the town of Mountainair.  Each site also has it’s own unique museum, bookstore, and bathrooms too.
Informative interpretive displays at the museum.
Be sure to stop by Alpine Alley for breakfast or lunch in Mountainair.

If you have extra time, the Manzano Mountains State Park is at the foothills of the towering 10K mountains and in comparison to the  trailheads in the national forest, it had a 2 mile family friendly (i.e. broad flat loop in a rich forest setting, with ponderosa, pinyon pine, juniper, and also oaks, views through the trees of the snow-covered peaks.  The ranger said he’d only just recently been able to open the road after all the snows. No footprints except wild turkey, fox/ coyote, deer, rabbits.
Hiking at Manzano Mountains State Park.

No comments:

Post a Comment