NMs in NM? National Monuments in New Mexico!
New Mexico has one national park, two national historical parks, one national heritage area, one national historical trail and 12 national monuments. During our trip to northern New Mexico we visited four of the national monuments. This post highlights the first two – Aztec Ruins and Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks.
We almost didn’t go to Aztec Ruins. We’d seen a bounty of ancient puebloan sites recently and lacked motivation. (We experienced the same with mining sites a few years ago.) Yet Aztec Ruins was just a few miles away, and it is a national monument, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so we went…and it was very nice!
To be clear, the Aztecs were not here. Anglo settlers named the area centuries after ancient puebloans occupied the site from the late 1000s to the late 1200s.
Anthropologist Lewis Morgan investigated the site in 1878 and estimated 25% of the wall and room stones had been taken by area settlers for building materials. A period of extensive looting occurred until they were privately owned in 1889.
In 1916 New York’s American Museum of Natural History began sponsoring excavations. The Great Kiva was reconstructed under their supervision.
Today the National Park system oversees the security and preservation of the site. Preservation techniques include reburying rooms and replacing mortar and missing stones It is estimated that 90 percent of the current masonry is original.
Moving from man made history to geologic history…
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is managed by the BLM with the Pueblo de Cochiti people. (The Cochiti people joined other puebloan groups in driving Spaniards from the area in 1680.)
Cone shaped rocks were formed by successive volcanic eruptions occurring six to seven million years ago.
Hiking at altitude was difficult and we liked any excuse to pause. This guy went across the trail ahead of us and proceeded to dig his tunnel entrance while we watched.