Park Stop #3 - Salina Pueblo Missions National Monument - Mountainair, NM
In the middle of New Mexico, you’ll find the three breathtaking sites that create the Salinas Pablo Missions – a National Monument that represents a unique time in the North American History.
The Salinas Pablo Missions were built in the mid-1600s. The population at that time was between 1500 and 2000. In 1680, before the Pueblo Rebellion, the whole area around the missions was untouched from the fallout of previous Apache raids and no one mentioned the missions, until August 30, 1939. The ruins were uncovered by the Museum of New Mexico.
Abo – The First Pueblo Mission
One of the three missions is known as Abo. It is built in 1622 and it demonstrates some of the most fascinated design, architecture and interior for that time. As a matter of fact, you can still see the main altar as well as some of the side altars, once you’ll walk into the mission.
Quarai – The Second Pueblo Mission
The second mission is known as Quarai and was built in 1626. This mission is in the best condition when compared to the other two. The walls still stand high as you walk into the church. Quarai is built in a shape of a cross.
Gran Quivira – The Third and the Largest Pueblo Mission
The third mission or Gran Quivira is the largest of the Salinas Pueblo Missions. Gran Quivira start as a pack of pit houses. These pit houses 1200 years ago were dug deeply into the ground with special wood roofs shielded with multiple layers of earth. The pit houses were accessed by a ladder which led to a direct hole in the ceiling. In that time, the pit houses served as a traditional home of the people in Pueblo. A few years later, when the Spanish came to this area, a new and modern concept of windows and doors was presented.
Salinas Pueblo Missions – A Unique Story to Experience
Believe it or not, the three missions that create the Salinas Pueblo Monument are considered to be among the most accessible monuments in the state. Sadly, they are among the least visited as well. Help me reverse this trend as the Salinas Pueblo Missions are definitely worth visiting. The beauty of these sites is that they are all connected and yet each mission has its own story to tell.
Operating Hours - General Info
Salinas Pueblo Missions is open from 9 am to 5 pm. RVs – larger RVs may have difficulty accessing the roads into the parks. Use your toad vehicle if available – you may want to call ahead and provide your RV length to check accessibility.
There are no entrance fees to these monuments.
Pets are allowed in the park.
Salinas Pueblo Missions Visitor Center: 505-847-2585. The Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument main visitor center is located in Mountainair. Each location also has centers onsite.
There are junior ranger programs for each location download the booklets ahead of time.
Gran Quivira 34°15′35″N106°5′25″W
Map credit – NPS
Things To Do
Hiking, birdwatching, plant viewing, picnicking and historical sightseeing.
There are walking loops at each pueblo.
Camping & Lodging
I would recommend staying in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, or another National Park campground and visiting these on the way or as a day trip.
Food & Gas
The best bet is to bring food and snacks with you. There are a few options in Mountainair.
Best Time To Visit
Salinas Pueblo Missions is at 6100-6500 ft (1860-1980 m) in an arid climate. 15-inch average annual rainfall. Winters can be cold & snowy. Summer highs are above 90F/32C with cool evenings. June-September often has thunderstorms. Flash flooding may occur in the area. Abo Ruins is especially prone to road closures as a result. Spring highs average 75F/24C & Fall is a little cooler. High winds often occur. Trails may be closed during these times. Check local weather prior to visiting.
Drives & Scenic Overlooks
While official drives are not provided, the surrounding areas are scenic.
The main photo ops are of the Pueblos themselves.
My Trip Report
I visited the Abo pueblo and really enjoyed the walking trails and surrounding area.
Have you been to Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument? Did I leave any must-dos or must-see sights off the list? Let me know in the comments below.
By The Numbers
Pets Allowed? Yes
We Are The Parks - Get Involved!
We all have the responsibility to help protect and preserve this important legacy. Here are five things you can do to minimize your impact and help protect the parks for future generations:
- Follow the Rules. A new story about bad behavior in our national parks comes out almost every day. With people regularly doing things like walking on geothermal features, getting far too close to wildlife, illegally using drones, and vandalizing priceless natural and cultural treasures, NPS resources are stretched. We can all help the NPS and protect valuable natural resources by following established rules.
- Practice Leave No Trace principles. With visitation to NPS sites at an all-time high, it is even more important for all of us to be good stewards of the places we visit. An easy way to reduce your personal impact in learning about and practicing Leave No Trace principles.
- Petition & Vote. In addition to supporting petitions and sending letters to your congresspeople. Consider the preservation, protection, and adequate funding of public lands when voting for local, state and federal officials consider. If these things are a priority for you as well, check in with your local and national conservation organizations to see how politicians in your community view the protection of public lands before you cast your votes.
- Get Involved. There are many ways to volunteer including artists-in-residence and citizen science programs.
- Support. Consider making a donation to the National Park Foundation. The NPF is the official charitable partner to the National Park System.