Welcome back, the next stop we made on our Spring Break National Park trip was Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. There are four different sites to visit at this monument: Abo, Quarai, Gran Quivira and the Headquarters/Visitor Center located in Mountanair, New Mexico. We had time to visit 3 of the 4. Looks like we will need to come back to get the 4th someday.
We started at the Abo Ruins since we were coming in from the west. There was not a park ranger there and contact station wasn’t open. With no one around for miles we took extra time here to enjoy it. This place was gorgeous.
“Abo was a thriving community when the Spaniards visited the Salinas Valley in 1581. Franciscans began converting Abo residents in 1622, and by the late 1620’s the first church was finished. A second church was built with a sophisticated buttressing technique unusual in 1600s New Mexico. But the good times did not last. Battered by the disasters that struck the other Salinas pueblos, the people of Abo left sometime between 1672 and 1678 to take refuge in towns along the Rio Grande.”
Next stop was in Mountanair at the Visitor Center, where we picked up our Junior Ranger books. We watched a the short film, and did a few of the Junior Ranger tasks to earn our Headquarters and Abo badge and ribbons.
We headed out to the Quarai site. This site had a very informative and helpful ranger at the Contact station. There is a small museum and beautiful walk around the site.
At Quarai there are springs of clear cool water fed by melting snow from the mountains. The Tiwa Indians were dry land farmers, planting corn, beans, squash and cotton. They mined salt from salt lakes which they used to preserve meat: to eat and trade. This village was built around 1300 AD and about 600 people lived here. They manufactured pottery and traded with nearby pueblos. However, like all of the Salinas pueblos, drought and famine left them to abandon their homes in the late 1670’s never to return.
We finished up our Junior Ranger but didn’t get our ribbon for this place because they were out. I will need to have it mailed if I ever get around to that. The kids thought this set up was pretty cool.
We ate a picnic lunch here and headed North to Albuquerque. The Salinas Pueblo Missions were fantastic. I highly recommend them if you are traveling through the area. Great history and low crowds, it doesn’t get better than that.
Another National Monument checked off of our list √