In 1540, Pecos (called Cicuyé by the natives) was a thriving trading center connecting Plains Indians and the Pueblos of northern New Mexico. It was that year that Spanish conquistador Francisco Vasquez de Coronado led his army to the site during his futile search for the Seven Cities of Gold. Today you can explore the fascinating ruins at Pecos National Historical Park not far off Interstate 25, which came to replace portions of Route 66, which itself replaced the original Santa Fe Trail. All of these routes funneled through the mountains at 7,562-foot Glorieta Pass, one of the main reasons for the creation of Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area. Glorieta Pass was also the site of a March 26-28, 1862 Civil War battle.
Museum, film, Pueblo and Mission Ruins Trail, Glorieta Unit
A massive Catholic mission with walls eight feet thick was the legacy the Spanish left behind, which was subsequently destroyed in the widespread revolt of 1680. The church ruins seen today are a remnant of one rebuilt at a smaller scale in 1717, which interestingly includes ceremonial kivas adjacent to its lofty walls. In the following centuries Comanche raids commenced, trade routes changed, and the pueblo abandoned in 1838. At the main National Park Service (NPS) visitor center, you can get the combination for the lock at Pigeon’s Ranch where a 2.25-mile trail passes through parts of the 1862 Battle of Glorieta Pass.
A 1.25-mile self-guided trail allows you to take a peek inside the mission and climb down into two reconstructed kivas to imagine what life was like when this was a bustling pueblo of over 2,000 inhabitants.
There are two reconstructed kivas along the 1.25-mile Pueblo and Mission Ruins Trail, including one right outside the walls of the Catholic mission. Climb down into a kiva for a trip back in time and a great photographic opportunity (once the dust settles).
All roads paved
There is no NPS campground at the site, but there are numerous camping opportunities throughout Santa Fe National Forest.
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument (New Mexico)
Petroglyph National Monument (New Mexico)
Fort Union National Monument (New Mexico)
Explore More – Who was the religious leader credited with organizing the 1680 Pueblo Revolt that drove the Spanish out of northern New Mexico (though they returned in 1692)?