Aztec Ruins National Monument
Guide

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Introduction

Looking to explore a piece of America's history? Plan to take a trip to Aztec Ruins National Monument. It's a great place to spend a day.

Aztec Ruins National Monument takes families on a walk through history to experience the lives of the Pueblo people in ancient times. The Pueblo people were deeply spiritual and formed intense connections with the heavens. Their architecture reflects their intensely held beliefs, and many of their temples, outbuildings, and monuments still exist today as a link between their unique culture and practiced religion.

The Aztec Ruins National Monument pays homage to the Pueblo people's deeply held beliefs that the positioning of their earthly dwellings and idols must be properly aligned with the cosmos and their unique calendar of holidays and seasons. The Aztec West great house pays tribute to this through its alignment with the sun's location during both summer and winter solstice yearly.

In addition to providing a glimpse into ancient Pueblo history, the area also boasts of some excellent hiking opportunities and the rare occasion to see unusual species of plant and animal life indigenous to the region. The climate is quite moderate in this region, experiencing neither intense highs nor extreme lows.

For the chance to explore some of America's rich culture, a trip to Aztec Ruins National Monument is in order. You'll have a great time and learn lots too.

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RV Rentals in Aztec Ruins National Monument

Transportation in Aztec Ruins National Monument

Driving

The trek from Albuquerque, NM to Aztec Ruins National Monument is quite lengthy at 180 miles. To follow this route, take I-25 N from Tijeras Ave NW and Dr Martin Luther King Jr Ave until you reach the exit for US-550 N. Follow this highway to Rd 2900/Ruins Rd in Aztec. Remain on this road until you reach the monument. Each of the highways along this route is well-maintained and alternates from portions of two and four lanes. Traffic moves at a consistent pace, and road construction is quite infrequent.

To get to Aztec Ruins National Monument from Durango, CO, you will travel a route that is 36 miles. Begin by heading south on Main Avenue E. Make a right hand turn onto W 9th St then turn left onto Camino Del Rio. Remain to the left to traverse onto US-550 S. To remain on this highway, you will need to make a right hand turn. This highway will take you into the state of New Mexico. Turn right onto Road 2900, making another right at Ruins Road. Continue along this street until you spot the monument. A busy route, this journey travels along highways of both two and four lanes. The roads are kept in good condition, and traffic flows well. Road construction is possible in the summer months, so expect delays on occasion.

Parking

Parking is available in a lot out front of Aztec Ruins National Monument.

Public Transport

Public transportation is available from Farmington, NM. The Aztec Tiger Bus Route will transport people to the Safeway/W Express stop. To catch the next bus, you will need to walk north on Main Street and cross Highway 516. Continue along the Old Spanish Trail across the footbridge to the monument. The entire journey will take approximately 20 minutes.

Campgrounds and parking in Aztec Ruins National Monument

Campsites in Aztec Ruins National Monument

Reservations camping

Camping Near Aztec Ruins National Monument

There is an option for RV camping less than one mile from Aztec Ruins National Monument. Nestled near to the water, this campground offers 53 campsites for RV and tent camping by reservation only. Sites are available unserviced or with full power and water hookups.

Pets are welcomed, and generator use is allowed.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Aztec Ruins National Monument

Spring

Aztec West Self-Guided Trail

No trip to Aztec Ruins National Monument is complete without a journey through the great house. This building was the hub of Pueblo life and was where people met to conduct business, enjoy social opportunities, and participate in political events. This trail is completely self-guided and is approximately 1/2 mile in length. Many of the rooms are in their original state and feature intricate and skillful stonework. The wood roof has been exceptionally well-preserved, and many of the walls still stand through the use of the original mortar application done centuries ago.

The trail also leads through the Great Kiva, a building that was used for ceremonial rites, and that is of immense religious significance. It has been, in part, reconstructed.

Summer

Heritage Garden and Native Plants Walk

For another interesting walk that offers a different perspective of the area, families should consider a stroll through the Heritage Garden and Native Plants Walk. Near to the designated picnic section, this area is both comfortable and shady. The gardens are chock full of colorful and interesting plants such as corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers. All of the plants are maintained by park officials and a staff of local volunteers.

Stop by in the summer months for a guided tour which includes a detailed description of the plants indigenous to the region and common to Pueblo-style cooking.

Old Spanish National Historic Trail

Found on the same grounds as Aztec Ruins National Monument is the Old Spanish National Historic Trail. This route is well-renowned as one of the first trade paths from Santa Fe to Los Angeles. A trek first undertaken by Antonio Armijo in 1829, the journey proved so challenging that it was abandoned as a viable option for future travelers.

Though this route is overgrown today, there is a section that has been marked out as a national trailway that families can follow from the designated picnic area over the footbridge and into metropolitan Aztec where they can enjoy cultural activities, fine dining, and shopping.

Fall

Wildlife viewing

Aztec Ruins National Monument is a haven for many varieties of wildlife. With over 320 acres of extremely varied terrain, the area has become a natural habitat for many different types of animals including mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles. The region boasts of 28 mammal species, 70 bird varieties, three different amphibian groups, and ten types of reptiles. Bring along a camera to record your unique findings.

Night Sky Watch

Aztec Ruins National Monument is the ideal spot to enjoy a Night Sky Watch. When the weather conditions are just right, you can glimpse magnificent views of both the stars and planets. Bring along a lawn chair, a soft blanket, and your binoculars or telescope and get ready to enjoy the show.

You'll also want to be sure you have some drinking water and snacks at your disposal. Dress in layers to avoid getting cold if the temperature should drop.

Winter

Photography

Aztec Ruins National Monument is extremely picturesque. From the landscape to the ruins to the abundance of plant and animal life, there is much worthy subject matter for the amateur and professional photographer alike.

Meander through the ruins in search of that special shot or wander through the nature preserve to photograph some of the unusual plant and animal species.

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