Aztec Ruins National Monument is an archaeological site in the northwestern part of New Mexico. The monument is an interesting destination to explore the historical, engineering and architectural achievements of the Anasazis.
Designated a World Heritage Site, the area covers 320 acres of land and contains the ruins of the Ancestral Pueblo settlement from the 12th century. Contrary to popular belief these ruins in Farmington New Mexico were not built by the Aztec Empire.
Aztec Ruins Visitor Center
Begin your trip at the Visitor Center where you can pick up a trail guide and get an orientation of the site. The Visitor Center houses a small museum that features artifacts, ancient pottery, and weavings excavated from the ruins.
Also at the visitor center, you can view a short video called Aztec Ruins: Footprints of the Past where Native American scholars, Pueblo people, and archaeologists share their perspectives of the Aztec Ruins. Books, postcards and traditional crafts available at the gift shop area.
Exploring Aztec Ruins National Monument
Take a self-guided tour to the West Trail of the Aztec Ruins. Walk down an 800-year old pathway to explore the ‘Great House’ of the Ancestral Puebloans that served as the political, economic and social center of the tribe. Visitors can walk through the original rooms of the ‘Great House’ and marvel at the skilled stone masonry and the incredibly well-preserved roofs and walls.
The area of the monument also contains the largest reconstructed Great Kiva, a semi-subterranean structure that served as the main religious site of the complex. The Kiva offers a glimpse into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people that inhabited this area of New Mexico over 900 years ago.
If you feel like it, take a walk through the Heritage Garden or stroll through the Native Plants Walk and check out the wild plants that have been relied upon by the Native Americans for thousands of years! Tours around the garden areas are conducted in the summer months.
Special events at the Aztec Ruins
Summer months from May to September are a good time to visit the National Monument, thanks to plenty of special events lined up during this time. The rangers of the park offer interpretive talks and special tours, evening lecture series, astronomy events and showcasing of traditional Indian arts, among others. Check the Visitor Center website calendar for exact dates and times for special events.
Picnic amid Aztec Ruins
Enjoy a picnic while you marvel at the ruins of this archaeological site. The shade of cottonwood trees by the ruins offers a great spot for a picnic lunch. Another interesting activity taking a walk along the Old Spanish Trail from the picnic area that follows the Animas River and takes you into the historic downtown of Aztec.
Situated on the north bank of the Animas River in northwestern New Mexico, there is a lot to see and do at the Aztec Ruins National Monument. While visitors are only permitted into certain areas of the ruins are well worth a look if you are in the area.
Monument hours are 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. during the summer and 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. during the winter. Visit the monument’s website for up to date information. Admission is free. Address 725 Ruins Road Aztec, New Mexico.