You should visit New Mexico’s many historical sites if planning a vacation. New Mexico is a beautiful area with many charms.
New Mexico Historic Sites
Pueblo-style architecture in adobe, hanging dried chili, and a diverse landscape that includes desert, mountains, flower fields, and forests lining rivers, to name a few.
All this beauty and culture tell a bigger story.
Histories of New Mexico
This is a rich history that has been passed down through generations. It’s a history we can still see today if you visit any historic sites in New Mexico.
Here’s a quick overview of our top 3 New Mexico historical sites:
We were astonished to see Taos Pueblo among all the historic sites.
This peaceful village is known for its stacked tan buildings and tranquility alongside the Sangre De Cristo Range’s Taos Mountains.
Rio Pueblo de Taos, a stream that runs through the village named Rio Pueblo de Taos, adds to the beauty of the mountain scenery. This is one of the most beautiful spots in New Mexico.
Taos Pueblo dates back nearly 1,000 years and currently houses 150 people. These villagers are part of the Native American Tribe known as the Puebloan People.
Puebloan Peoples Language
The adobe Pueblos is one of the oldest continually inhabited communities in the US. This village is one of 8 Northern Pueblos that speak the Tanoan language.
It is a language that has yet to be transcribed or written down, making much of the Puebloan culture undiscovered to modern society.
These structures are made of adobe, sun-dried bricks made of mud and straw. They maintain the buildings by adding new adobe.
Enjoy Roaming Taos Pueblo
Visitors can walk these magnificent adobe homes but must adhere to the restricted areas signs.
This is done to protect residents’ privacy. Some locally-sourced gifts will be sold in homes that are designated as businesses. We enjoyed exploring the village and learning about the Puebloan culture. We visited the town during winter, which was a blessing!
The stunning white snow perfectly complemented the landscape and adobe buildings. The river was slightly frozen, making Taos Pueblo an idyllic winter wonderland.
Pueblo’s Friendly Dogs
And to top it all? Dogs. Dogs all around!
This is an excellent bonus if you love dogs.
These dogs are affectionate and feel right at home. Many dogs were calm and didn’t respond to our wanderings.
You can approach some of them and touch them. But expect them to stay upright while they lounge around.
Get a Free Tour
- Tours are also available if you want to learn more about Taos Pueblo.
- The tour guides spend around 20-30 minutes educating the visitors about the history and culture of the pueblos.
- We recommend tipping cash for historical insight and to show appreciation. Tours are always free.
El Santuario De Chimayo
El Santuario de Chimayo (small church) is in Chimayo, an idyllic location below the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
It is one of the most popular and sacred sites in America. This makes it one of the most popular tourist attractions in New Mexico, with an average of 300,000—visitors per year.
This is the most important pilgrimage site in the country.
The curative properties of holy dirt found in the area made the holy land so famous. This dirt is believed to have miraculous healing properties, which can cure many diseases.
Pilgrims will travel long distances during Holy Week to reach El Santuario de Chimayo to pay their respects. It’s fantastic that so many people walk from Santa Fe.
It can go as far as 30 miles. Some reports claim that some may walk as far as Albuquerque, approximately 90 miles away.
What You Need to Know Before You Visit
Although the land can be viewed leisurely, it is sacred and should not be taken for granted. The compound has two beautiful chapels – El Santuario de Chimayo Chapel and Santo Nino de Atocha Chapel. Each chapel can be viewed from the inside, but photos are prohibited.
The courtyard at El Santuario De Chimayo is one of the most iconic features on the property. The environment was peaceful, and we felt a sense of calm and peace. It is easy to achieve states in a place so revered and remote. These elements, whether religious or not, cast a spell.
Explore the surrounding area besides the chapels.
There are many other things to do and see.
The welcome center, several gift shops, a trading station, and other historical markers can be visited. A small coffee shop is located just up the road, approximately a 3-minute walk to the chapels.
Consider donating to support the preservation of this historic site when you visit. You can also bring a small container to take home holy dirt.
We felt at ease while walking around, even though we didn’t visit the area for religious reasons.
This sacred spot is worth a visit for its architecture, lush scenery, and general vibe. This is especially true if you are looking for New Mexico’s best historical site.
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
Hiking to historic cliff dwellings is a great way to combine your love of nature and history.
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Memorial is located in Gila National Forest and combines history and hiking into one fantastic destination.
A short loop trail of 11 miles leads to ancient dwellings built into the cliffside. This is something you will find nowhere in the forest.
Different groups of nomadic people sought shelter in caves high above the Gila River for thousands of years.
In the 1200s, the Mogollon people made it their permanent home.
Mogollon constructed approximately 40 rooms in 5 large caves that housed several families.
The Mogollon eventually moved on, leaving empty rooms that gave a glimpse into the Past.
Stepping (or climbing) into the Past
You can now climb up the ladders or stairs to the caves and explore the interiors of these historical cliff dwellings.
The Cliff Dwellings Trail within the monument leads to the caves.
You will take a short hike up the mountain trail to reach the base of these dwellings. A ranger will meet you before you enter the caves and give you a brief history.
We were immediately amazed at the size of this place once we entered it. There is enough space for a small group to live comfortably. Think modern apartment buildings!
Rooms were built without ceilings and shared walls. They also had narrow cutouts allowing windows and doors to be opened. The cave contained an ample open space that served as a common area.
These ancient structures could be your ticket to reliving the Past.
Continue exploring the area, and then continue on the trail that loops back to where you started.
Explore New Mexico’s Best Historic Sites and Step into the Past
It’s a short hike that offers great rewards. It is fascinating to see how these tribes lived in primitive but still advanced cave dwellings.
We are so thankful to have seen and explored Gila Cliff Dwellings, a historic landmark still in existence.
Visit the NPS visitor center nearby for more information about the Mogollon Tribe. It has a small museum at the back.
The museum features Mogollon artifacts from the area and an exhibit about the Chiricahua Apache, who consider this land their homeland.
New Mexico is home to a wealth of culture and a rich history. These are just three unique places you can see in New Mexico. Each one is unique in its way.
It’s fascinating to discover the history of each historic site, and it’s incredible to see them in their stunning landscapes.
It is a beautiful escape from the present into historical New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment.