Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

Written by on July 12, 2017 in NM History & Heritage - Comments Off on Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

The remote region of New Mexico called the Salinas Basin has been home to a number of cultures for at least 2,000 years. Large pueblos and trade settlements of Tiwa and Tompiro speaking Puebloans grew up around the Estancia Valley and the communities thrived. In the 1580s, when Spain claimed the territory, Franciscan missionaries came to the area in a effort to convert the natives. What remains today are austere yet beautiful structures of the early contact between Pueblo Indians and Spanish Colonials.


Salinas Pueblo Missions is situated in the foothills of the Manzano Mountains, between 6,000 and 8,000 feet. The word Manzano is derived from the word “manzanas” which is Spanish for apples. The Franciscan priests supposedly planted acres and acres of apple orchards, and the small Hispanic village and the surrounding mountains take their name for the orchards.

Today, Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument comprises a total of 1,100 acres and is made up of three historic sites: Abó, Quarai, and Gran Quivira. A fabulous interpretive walking trail guides guests through the missions and pueblos at each location, which are some distance apart. Quarai’s towering stone walls (minus the roof) are beautiful against the blue sky. Abó is set against the backdrop of the Manzano Mountains and Gran Quivera is on a hill overlooking the Great Plains. Heritage Preservation Week in May offers visitors and students an unusual chance to gain hands-on experience in ruins stabilization.

There is no camping at the monument, but you can find plenty of places in Cibola National Forest and Manzano State Park. The best place to stay if you want a more civilized atmosphere is in nearby Albuquerque, New Mexico, population over 500,000. The town has everything — great lodging, dining and shopping as well as museums, zoos, parks and other attractions. We recommend the Albuquerque Biological Park (which includes the Albuquerque Aquarium, the Rio Grande Botanic Garden, the Rio Grande Zoo and Tingley Beach) and the Sandia Peak Tramway. Other nearby attractions (within two hours drive or so) include El Moro National Monument, El Malpais National Monument and Petroglyph National Monument.

Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument
P.O. Box 517
Mountainair, NM 87036-0517
Phone: 505-847-2585

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