Native American Locations In the Deserts

Archaeological record of the Native American

At tens of thousands of sites across the deserts of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, we find a rich archaeological record of the Native American peoples. On rare occasions, we find the skeletal remains of the nomadic Paleo Indians, who followed and hunted the big game of the Ice Age, and we even find their projectile points embedded in the bones of their prey. We find the long-cold fire hearths of the Desert Archaic Indians, who hunted the smaller game and harvested the wild plants of a warming earth, and we see the clues of their early experiments with village life and agriculture. We discover the pit house dwellings and the fields of the first true village farmers, who drew from their ancestral roots and borrowed from other cultures to forge the foundation for the rise of the Puebloans.

We find the masonry and adobe walls of contiguous and single- and multistoried rooms of the vigorous Puebloan emergence from the humble pit houses, giving rise to the traditions of the Mogollon, the Hohokam, the Anasazi, the Casas Grandes and the collateral Sinagua and Salado peoples. We see the large late prehistoric Puebloan villages which grew out of centuries of Puebloan regional contractions, population concentrations and cultural fusions. We find evidence for other peoples who lived on the edges of the Puebloan centers, following their own cultural hunting, gathering and agricultural trajectories. We see evidence for the invasions of the Athabaskan-speaking peoples – the Navajos and Apaches – who occupied lands which had been abandoned by the Puebloans and who raided the communities which had been founded by late prehistoric Puebloans and by Euroamericans. We hear the stories of the outside raiders, who came from the Colorado mountains and the eastern plains to raid Puebloan, Athabaskan and Euroamerican peoples.

The Chronology

The Native Americans of the desert marched through time in ragged columns, with cultures evolving, vanishing or melting together at different rates at different times at different places. The Paleo Indians, who arrived in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico region at some unknown moment at some unknown place tens of thousands of years ago, faded from the scene about 8000 to 10,000 years ago. Their successors, the Desert Archaic Indians, underwent a slow diversification of their culture then gave way to the first village farmers about 2000 years ago. The Puebloan peoples emerged roughly 1000 years ago, and for half a millennium, they invented and reinvented themselves during a movable cultural feast which finally ended in the northern Rio Grande drainage basin, east central New Mexico and northeast Arizona. The Athabaskans appeared in the desert region sometime during the first half of the second millennium, and they would challenge the Puebloan and Euroamerican peoples until the last quarter of the 19th century. The Euroamericans arrived in the 16th century to change the cultural face of the desert forever. Outside raiders – Utes, Kiowas and Comanches – wrote their own chapters in the history of the desert during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Paleo Indian Sites

The nomadic Paleo Indians, who moved across the landscape with minimal burdens, left no more than a wispy record of their presence in small caves and canyon alcoves where ceilings and walls remain blackened by the smoke of ancient campfires; at elevated campsites where hunters watched over open basins for herds of big game animals; at streamside terraces where bands probably built brush lodges for protection from the weather; and at kill sites where Ice Age animal bones bear embedded stone points from the spears of the Paleo hunters.

The Blackwater Draw site, located just off state highway NM 466 north of Portales in east central New Mexico, is arguably the most famous Paleo Indian site in the nation. It has yielded stone spear points and stone and bone tools in association with mammoth, bison, horse and turtle bones. The Blackwater Draw Museum, five miles north of Portales on U. S. Highway 70, holds exhibits of site artifacts and interpretive murals. Although the site can be visited only by appointment, the museum is open from 10:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. from Monday through Saturday and from noon until 5:00 p. m. on Sunday throughout the summer. It is open from 10:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. from Tuesday through Saturday and from noon until 5:00 p. m. on Sunday throughout the winter.

For additional information, contact:
Blackwater Draw Museum
Station 9
Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico 88130
Phone 1-505-562-2202
Fax 1-505-562-2910

Desert Archaic Indian Sites

The Desert Archaic peoples, who also traveled lightly burdened, still left a more diverse and substantial archaeological record in caves, alcoves and openRock Art indian campsites, and in the last quarter of their tenure, while they went about their usual business of moving and hunting and gathering, they built the first pit house hamlets and planted the first small casual garden plots in the desert region.

Although they set in motion the cultural developments which led to village life and agriculture, the Desert Archaic Indians left no more than fragmentary evidence of their existence, for instance, spear points, atl atls (spear throwers), plant-fiber basketry and sandals, rabbit-fur blankets and painted and scribed rock art. Today, most sites lie in remote areas, but some occur near or even beneath pit house village and pueblo ruins.

El Paso’s Museum of Archaeology, located off Transmountain Road north of the city, has a good Desert Archaic exhibit. It is open from 9:00 a. m. to 4:45 p. m. from Tuesday through Sunday.

For additional information, contact:
The El Paso Museum of Archaeology at Wilderness Park
4301 Transmountain Road
El Paso, Texas 79924
Phone 1-915-755-4332
Fax 1-915-759-6824

Many other museums in the Southwest also offer exhibits on the Desert Archaic peoples.

The First Village Farmer Sites

The first village farmers left evidence of their communities in rock alcoves, caves and open sites near drainages and playa lakes, where they found arable land. Shallow depressions or pits in the earth mark lodge sites. Elaborately woven basketry and textiles speak to the continuation of an ancient craft, and pottery shards, to the beginning of a newly introduced craft. Higher numbers of milling stones suggest the growing importance of ground corn in the prehistoric diet. The diminishing number of large stone points and increasing abundance of smaller stone points point to the transition from the spear and atl atl to the bow and arrow. Painted and scribed rock art suggests a revolutionary development in spiritual life. Today, their sites occur not only in remote areas, but also near, beside, beneath and within pueblo communities.

The New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, located on the southeast side of Las Cruces, features an excellent full scale replica of an early village farm pit house and a small, scale model diorama of pit house village and corn fields. It also includes bins with authentic prehistoric milling stones which children (and adults) can use to grind corn. The museum is open from 9:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 5:00 p. m. on Sunday.

For more information, contact:
New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum
PO Drawer 1898
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88004
Phone 1-505-522-4100
Fax 1-505-522-3085

Other museums across the southwest, for instance the El Paso Museum of Archaeology, also have exhibits showing early village farming in the desert, and various national parks and monuments in the region have actual ruins.

Puebloan Sites

Late in the first millennium, Puebloan cultures, firmly grounded in the community and agriculture life of their ancestors, spread across the desert region like light from the rising sun. Puebloan peoples expanded into new areas. They built new communities on the surface of the ground. They constructed new systems for the control of water. They opened new fields for cultivation of corn, beans, squash, cotton, amaranth and other crops. They left in their wake great ruins which are perhaps the most spectacular in the United States.

1. Mogollon Puebloan Sites (Northern Chihuahuan Desert)

The Mogollon masonry ruins in the broken lands along the New Mexico and Arizona border are among the best preserved within the range of the tradition. The adobe and stone and mud ruins in the desert basins to the east have largely melted into the sand.

The late 13th and early 14th century Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, located about 35 miles north of Silver City, New Mexico, are among the most impressive Mogollon ruins. They include several dozen rooms built in five large caves in a towering sandstone bluff which has been heavily sculpted by the forces of erosion. The ruins and the visitor center are open from 8:00 a. m. to 6:00 p. m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The ruins are open from 9:00 a. m. to 4:00 p. m., and the visitor center, from 8:00 a. m. to 4:30 p. m. the remainder of the year.

For additional information, contact:
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
Route 11
Box 100
Silver City, New Mexico 88061
Phone 1-505-536-9461 or 1-505-536-9344
Web Site

The 13th to 15th century Casa Malpais, located at Springerville, Arizona, and built of volcanic stone, overlooks the Little Colorado River Valley. A partially walled community and possibly a Mogollon ritual site, it featured a large ceremonial chamber, catacomb burials, and astronomical shrines and markers. The Casa Malpais Museum and Visitor Center, in Springerville, is open from 8:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. Monday through Thursday and from 8:00 a. m. to 4:00 p. m. from Friday through Sunday. Tours of the site, arranged through the museum, are available from 7:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. Monday through Friday and from 8:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. Saturday and Sunday during the summer and from 8:00 a. m. to 4:00 p. m. daily throughout the winter.

For additional information, contact:
Casa Malpais Archaeological Park, Museum and Visitors Center
318 E. Main Street
Springerville, Arizona 85938
Phone 1-928-333-5375
Fax 1-928-333-3512

Although the pueblo ruins in the eastern part of the Mogollon range have largely disappeared over time, the rock art in the region ranks as some of the most spectacular in the United States. Especially notable are Texas’ Hueco Tanks State Historical Park, located about 35 miles east of El Paso, and New Mexico’s Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, about 30 miles north of Alamogordo, along the western flanks of the Sacramento Mountains. On the surfaces of the secluded stone alcoves and cliff faces at Hueco Tanks is the largest known array of Mogollon painted masks, deities and mythological creatures in the desert region. It is open from 8:00 a. m. to 6:00 p. m. from Monday through Thursday and from 7:00 a. m. to 7:00 p. m. May 1 through September 30 and from 8:00 a. m. to 6:00 p. m. daily the rest of the year. On the surfaces of the boulders and rock exposures at Three Rivers is the most concentrated collection of art in any medium in the entire desert region. The more than 20,000 Mogollon petroglyphs (images scribed or chiseled into stone surfaces) include depictions of deities, humans, animals, birds, fish and other subjects. Three Rivers is always open to visitors.

For additional information, contact:
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Hueco Tanks State Historical Park
6900 Hueco Tanks Road No 1
El Paso, Texas 79938
Phone 1-915-857-1135 or 1-800-792-1112

Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce
1301 N. White Sands Boulevard
Alamogordo, New Mexico 88310
Phone 1-505-437-6120 or 1-800-826-0294
Fax 1-505-437-6334

Rock art served as one medium for the signature Mogollon imagery, and ceramic art, especially the famed Mimbres bowls, served as another medium. Indeed, the white inner surface of the bowls, produced across southwestern New Mexico early in the second millennium, served as a painter’s canvas, a means for the artist to portray people, deities, ceremonies, mythical creatures, animals, reptiles and insects. One of the largest collections of Mimbres bowls is exhibited by the Western New Mexico University Museum in Silver City. With the exception of university holidays, the museum is open from 9:00 a. m. to 4:30 p. m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, from 1:00 p. m. to 4:30 p. m. on Wednesday, and from 10:00 a. m. to 4:00 p. m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Other impressive collections are featured at the Deming Luna Mimbres Museum and Custom House (9:00 a. m. to 4:00 p. m. Monday through Saturday and 1:30 p. m. to 4:00 p. m.) in Deming, New Mexico, and in the Geronimo Springs Museum (9:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. Monday through Saturday) in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

For additional information, contact:

Western New Mexico University Museum
P. O. Box 680
Silver City, New Mexico 88062
Phone 1-505-538-6386
Fax 1-505-538-6178

Deming Luna Mimbres Museum and Custom House
301 South Silver
Deming, New Mexico 88030
Phone 1-505-546-2383

Geronimo Springs Museum
211 Main Street
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico 87901
Phone 1-505-894-6600

2. Hohokam Puebloan Sites (Northern Sonoran Desert)

The signature of the Hohokam, including the ruins of standing pueblo walls, platform ceremonial mounds, excavated ball courts and massive irrigation systems, is still clearly visible on the landscape of the northern Sonoran Desert. Two of the largest sites include Pueblo Grande, located in Phoenix, and Casa Grande, located about an hour’s drive south from Phoenix, near the town of Coolidge. Pueblo Grande, part of a 100-acre park, has ruins of a multistory "big house," house structures, courtyards, plazas, ovens, storage pits, a platform mound, two or possibly three ball courts and original irrigation canals. Pueblo Grande is open from 9:00 a. m. to 4:45 p. m. Monday through Saturday and from 1:00 p. m. to 4:45 p. m. on Sundays. Casa Grande, surrounded by unexcavated ruins, consists of a four-story 40-foot by 60-foot building with four and one-half-foot thick adobe walls and massive timber beams. Its four walls face the cardinal directions. Its window alignments indicate that they were used for lunar and solar observations, suggesting that the building may have been a Hohokam observatory. Unfortunately, a large metal umbrella-like structure covers the building, but it is necessary to shield the adobe walls from erosion and eventual collapse. The visitor center and ruin are open daily, except Christmas, from 8:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m.

For additional information, contact:
Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park
4619 E. Washington St.
Phoenix, Arizona 85034-1909
Phone 1-602-495-0901 or 0902 or 1-877-706-4408 (Toll Free)
FAX 1-602-495-5645

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
1100 Ruins Drive
Coolidge, Arizona 85228
Phone 1-520-723-3172
FAX 1-520-723-7209

3. Anasazi Puebloan Sites (Colorado Plateau)

The Anasazi pueblo ruins, with standing walls speaking of the Anasazis’ consummate skills in community planning, architecture and masonry, occupy some of the most dramatic settings in the American landscape.

The Chacoan Anasazi ruins, located in northwest New Mexico, include 11 major ruins at the somber Chaco Canyon National Monument and more than 80 outlying ruins on the surrounding high sage plain. Dating to the turn of the millennium – roughly A. D. 900 to 1150 – the Chaco Canyon ruins have probably attracted the attention of more archaeologists than any other prehistoric complex in the desert region, and one ruin, Pueblo Bonito, is arguably the most famous single prehistoric site in the nation. The Chaco Canyon Visitor Center is open daily from 8:00 a. m. through 6:00 p. m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day and from 8:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. the remainder of the year. The ruins are open from sunrise to sunset. Salmon Ruin, a major early 12th century Chacoan outlier near Bloomfield, New Mexico, has several large two-story rooms, some 150 smaller rooms and a "great kiva" (a large ceremonial chamber).

It also has replicas of a pit house structure, a Navajo hogan and sweat lodge, and an Apache wickiup. The ruin is open daily from 8:00 a. m. through 6:00 p. m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day and from 8:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. the rest of the year. It is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.

Chacoan Anasazi ruin

The 12th and 13th century Aztec Ruins National Monument, a large pueblo which was possibly founded by Chacoan migrants soon after the abandonment of the Chaco Canyon region, has been only partially excavated. Misnamed – it has nothing to do with the Mesoamerican Aztec culture – the ruin contained hundreds of rooms, some three stories high, built around a large plaza. Located at Aztec, New Mexico, it has at least 28 kivas, including a restored great kiva. Aztec is open daily from 8:00 a. m. through 6:00 p. m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day and from 8:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. the rest of the year. It is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. Chimney Rock, a ruin perched on a 7500-foot high ridge in south central Colorado, about 17 miles west of Pagosa Springs, may have served as a place of Chacoan spirituality and lunar observations. It lies in the shadows of a pair of towering pinnacles, "Chimney Rock" and "Companion Rock," which had evident ritual significance. It consists of Chacoan-style living quarters and ceremonial chambers as well as a number of earlier ruins. It is open for four scheduled guided tours daily from May 15 through September 30.

For additional information, contact:
Superintendent's Office
Chaco Culture National Historical Park
PO Box 220
Nageezi, New Mexico 87037
Phone 1-505-786-7014

Salmon Ruins Museum
P. O. Box 125
Bloomfield, New Mexico 87413
Phone 1-505-632-2013

Aztec Ruins National Monument
P. O. Box 640
Aztec, New Mexico 87410-0640
Phone 1-505-334-6174

Chimney Rock Interpretive Program
P. O. Box 310
Pagosa Springs, Colorado 81147
Phone 1-970-883-5359 or 1-970-385-1210 (during off season)

Mesa Verde

The San Juan/Mesa Verde Anasazi ruins include the fabled cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde, in the southwest corner of Colorado, and the pueblo and tower complexes of Hovenweep, in the southeastern corner of Utah. The Mesa Verde National Park (entrance half way between the communities of Cortez and Mancos) has seven major 12th and 13th century ruins sequestered in alcoves of canyons, and it has many other ruins, some of them thousands of years old, located on the tops and flanks of the mesa. Through the restorations of ruins and the museum exhibits and dioramas of prehistoric life in Mesa Verde, the National Park Service has constructed an excellent overview of the sequence of Native American cultural developments in the Southwest. Mesa Verde is open every day of the year, with ranger-guided tours for some of the ruins and self-guided tours for other ruins. The Hovenweep National Monument, located on the Utah/Colorado border, has five major 13th century ruin complexes generally clustered around the heads of canyons issuing from Cajon Mesa. The most striking features of the ruins are the towers, some square in floor plan, others roughly circular, some singular, a few paired. The towers served an unknown purpose. Hovenweep is open all year. Except for winter holidays, the visitor center is open all year from 8:00 a. m. to 4:00 p. m.

For additional information, contact:
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado 81330
Phone 1-970-529-4465
Web Site

Hovenweep National Monument
McElmo Route
Cortez, Colorado 81321
Phone 1-970-562-4282
Web Site

The Kayenta Anasazi built small scattered "homestead" pueblos across northern Arizona and southern Utah and substantial pueblos in the spectacular Canyon de Chelly and Tsegi Canyon.

Canyon De Chelly

The Canyon de Chelly National Monument, a monumental natural sculpture in red sandstone, encompasses several major 12th and 13th century Kayenta cliff dwellings and perhaps 800 small village sites. Its Native American history extends continually from early pit house farmers through the Kayenta Puebloan period into modern Navajo occupations. The visitor center, at Chinle, Arizona, is open from 8:00 a. m. to 6:00 p. m. from May through September and from 8:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. during the rest of the year.

Navajo concessionaires offer daily guided jeep tours through the canyon. Unlike the ruins at Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, Hovenweep and other locations, the fragile ruins of Canyon de Chelly cannot be entered by visitors. Tsegi Canyon, part of the Navajo National monument, has two major 13th century ruins, Betatakin and Kiet Siel, the largest and best preserved cliff dwellings in Arizona. Two fairly strenuous hikes, guided by National Park Service rangers, are required to reach the ruins, although Betatakin can be viewed from an overlook. The 5-mile, 5-hour hike to Betatakin, limited to 25 people, begins at 8:15 a. m. daily. The 17-mile overnight hike to Kiet Siel, limited to 20 people, can be joined through reservations only. The hikes are conducted from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The visitor center is open daily from 8:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. It closes only for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

For additional information, contact:
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
PO Box 588
Chinle, Arizona 86503
Phone 1-928-674-5500
FAX 1-928--674-5507
Web Site

Navajo National Monument Visitor Center
HC-71, Box 3
Tonalea, Arizona 86044-9704
Phone 1-520-672-2366 or 1-520-672-2367
Web Site

4. Sinagua Pueblo Sites (North Central Arizona)

The Sinagua people evidently descended from Yuman hunting and gathering ancestors and drew culturally from various Puebloan traditions. They built the three-story Wupatki (now partially restored) and several neighboring pueblo villages near the Sunset volcanic crater northeast of Flagstaff in the 11th and 12th centuries. Part of the Wupatki National Monument, the pueblo ruins are open from sunrise to sunset. The visitor center is open daily, typically from 8:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. except for Christmas day. The Sinagua built the five-story 20-room Montezuma Castle cliff dwelling (which had nothing to do with the Aztec ruler named Montezuma), in a high limestone balcony overlooking Beaver Creek, just north of Camp Verde during the 14th century. The imposing centerpiece of the Montezuma Castle National Monument, the fragile ruin, perched high above the flood plain, cannot be entered, but it can be viewed from a trail along the creek. It is open from 8:00 a. m. to 7:00 p. m. from late May to mid-September and from 8:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. during the rest of the year.

For additional information, contact:
Flagstaff Area National Monuments
6400 North Highway 89
Flagstaff, Arizona 86004
Phone 1-928-679-2365 or 1-928-526-1157
FAX 1-928-526-4259
Web Site

Montezuma Castle Visitors Center
P. O. Box 219
Camp Verde, Arizona 86322
Phone 1-928-567-3322
FAX 1-928-567-3597
Web Site

5. Salado Pueblo Sites (East Central Arizona)

Casa Grande ruins

The Salado people, who stitched together a complex cultural tapestry from Mogollon, Hohokam and Anasazi traditions, occupied the Tonto Basin in east central Arizona from the 13th through the 15th centuries. They built the two cliff dwellings above the Tonto Basin and the Salt River at the Tonto National Monument, near Roosevelt, Arizona, during the 13th century, and they built the Besh Ba Gowah Pueblo on the desert floor at Globe, Arizona about the 14th century. The national monument’s 31-room Lower Cliff Dwelling ruin is reached by a half-mile long self-guided trail. Its 40-room Upper Cliff Dwelling ruin can be visited with a ranger-guided tour which will require a reservation. Except for Christmas, the visitor center is open all year from 8:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. Special presentations are scheduled from November through April. Globe’s Besh Ba Gowah ruin, which once had about 400 rooms, has been partially reconstructed, with a self-guided trail. Unfortunately, half of the ruin was bulldozed in 1948 and in 1982 to make room for a city park. Nevertheless, Besh Ba Gowah conveys a sense of Salado architecture. It is open from 9:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. daily.

For additional information, contact:
The Tonto National Monument
HC02 Box 4602
Roosevelt, Arizona 85545
Phone 1-520-467-2241
FAX 1-520-467-2225
Web Site

Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park
Jesse Hayes Road
Globe, Arizona 85501
Phone 1-520-425-0320 or 1-520-425-4459

6. Paquime, Casas Grande Site (Northwest Chihuahua, Mexico)

The Casas Grandes people – with cultural roots in the Mogollon, Hohokam, Anasazi as well as Mesoamerican traditions – founded Paquime in the 13th century about midway between the modern communities of Nuevo Casas Grandes and Colonia Juarez. A major trade and ritual center, Paquime would become the largest, most influential community in the entire desert region for the next two centuries. It included, not only a major apartment complex and an apparent outdoor market and trade center, but also ceremonial mounds and ball courts. For those unaccustomed to traveling in Mexico, I recommend that you contact a travel agent, preferably one with representatives in the desert Southwest, for additional information about visiting Paquime.


7. Late Prehistoric and Historic Puebloan Sites

By the middle of the second millennium, the Puebloan people had largely abandoned their ancestral homes in the northern Chihuahuan Desert, the northern Sonoran Desert and the Colorado Plateau. While some apparently reverted to the late Desert Archaic hunting, gathering and casual farming lifestyle in their traditional lands, most migrated to aggregated pueblos in the upper Rio Grande drainage basin, west central New Mexico and northeastern Arizona. When the Spanish conquistadores arrived in the deserts of the Southwest in the 16th century, they discovered about 100 communities with thriving Puebloan populations and numerous others, abandoned decades earlier, with walls still standing. Abuses by Spanish colonists, diseases from Europe, and incessant raiding by Apaches and other tribes triggered new abandonments. All that remain today are 19 living pueblos in New Mexico and the Hopi pueblos in northeastern Arizona.

Salinas complex

Fortunately, several of the living pueblos share their heritage with visitors. For instance, Acoma, the spectacular crown of a mesa about 70 miles east of Albuquerque, offers tours of the ancient village and invites visitors to its annual Harvest Dance and Annual Feast of San Estevan. Similarly, the Hopi, with villages located at the base and on the top of three mesas, offer tours and share some events. Acoma and the Hopi’s Old Oraibi pueblos are the oldest continuously inhabited villages in the United States.

A number of pueblos abandoned in late prehistoric times or after Spanish colonization are open for tours and visits. Some of the more spectacular late prehistoric ruins include the 15th century two-story Tyuonyi Pueblo (along with numerous other ruins) located in Frijoles Canyon in the Bandelier National Monument in north central New Mexico and the 13th through 16th century 740 room Puye Pueblo (plus numerous other ruins) located at the mouth of Santa Clara Canyon near Espanola, New Mexico. Among the most impressive historic ruins, with Spanish mission church walls still standing, include Pecos, about 15 miles east of Santa Fe, and the Salinas Pueblos (Gran Quivira, Quarai and Abo), near the community of Mountainair, New Mexico.

Among the most interesting and least known historic ruins are the Pueblitos – or, "little pueblos" – built by an alliance of Puebloan and Navajo peoples in northwestern New Mexico during the 17th and 18th centuries. Designed as a network for defense against Spanish soldiers and Ute raiding parties, the Pueblitos range from small single structures perched on massive boulders to Puebloan/Navajo hamlets situated on highly defensible canyon walls.

For additional information about New Mexico’s living pueblos, contact:

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
2401 12th Street NW (1 block North of I-40)
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87192
Phone 1-505-843-7270 or 1-800-766-4405 (Outside of New Mexico)
Web Site

For additional information about Arizona’s Hopi pueblos, contact:
Hopi Tribe
Cultural Preservation Office
P. O. Box 123
Kykotsmovi, Arizona 86039
Phone 1-928-734-3000
FAX 1-928-734-2435

For additional information about New Mexico’s Puebloan ruins, contact:
New Mexico Department of Tourism
491 Old Santa Fe Trail
Lamy Building
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
Phone 1-505-827-7400 or 1-800-733-6396 Ext. 0643
FAX 1-505-827-7402

For additional information about northwestern New Mexico’s Pueblito sites, contact:

Farmington Convention & Visitors Bureau
3041 E. Main Street
Farmington, New Mexico 87402
Phone 1-505-326-7602 or 1-800-448-1240

Other Sites to See

While the Puebloans recall their village and farming heritage, the other tribesAmerican indian Apache stage traditional dances, ritual celebrations, intertribal powwows, feasts, fiestas, games, rodeos, beauty pageants, street fairs and arts and crafts festivals. For instance, the Navajos (Four Corners region), Utes (Four Corners region), Apaches (north central and southwest New Mexico and southeastern Arizona), Ak-Chin (south central Arizona), Gila River Indians (south central Arizona), Havasupai (Grand Canyon area), Tohono O'odham (southern Arizona) and Pima and Maricopa (near Phoenix) host annual and, in many instances, specially scheduled events.

For additional information, contact:
New Mexico Department of Tourism
491 Old Santa Fe Trail, Lamy Bldg.
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
Phone 1-505-827-7400 or 1-800-733-6396 Ext. 0643
FAX 1-505-827-7402

Council of Indian Nations
P. O. Box 1800
Apache Junction, Arizona 85217-9961
Phone 1-800-811-6955

Jay W. Sharp


"Paleo-Indians" (Part 1)
Desert Archaic peoples( Part 2)
Desert Archaic peoples - Spritual Quest (Part 3)
Native Americans - The Formative Period (Part 4)
Voices from the South (Part 5)
The Mogollon Basin and Range Region (Part 6)
The Mogollon - Their Magic (Part7)
Hohokam the Farmers (Part 8)
The Hohokam Signature (Part 9 )
The Anasazi (Part 10)
The Anasazi 2 (Part 11)
The Great Puebloan Abandonments (Part 12)
Paquime (Part 13)
When The Spanish Came (Part 14)
Life on the Margin (1) (Part 15)
Life on the Margin (2) (Part 16)
The Athapaskan Speakers Part 1 (Part 17)
The Athapaskan Speakers Part 2 (Part 18)
The Outside Raiders (Part 19)
The Enduring Mysteries (Part 20)
Some Sites to Visit (Final Part) this page

Profile Of An Apache Woman
Pueblo Rebellion
Cochise and the Bascom Affair
Geronimo's Last Hurrah
Books on Native American healing



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Joshua Tree National Park - Black Eagle Mine Road Video - Beginning 6.5 miles north of the Cottonwood Visitor Center, this dead-end dirt road runs along the edge of Pinto Basin, crosses several dry washes, and then winds up through canyons in the Eagle Mountains. The first 9 + miles of the road are within the park boundary. Beyond that point is BLM land. Several old mines are located near this road.

Death Valley - Scotty's Castle Video
Find out how Scotty's Castle came to be, when Albert Johnson met Walter Scott, later known as Death Valley Scotty. Take a tour of the magnificent rooms and see the castle's fantastic furnishings. Hear the organ in the music room as you experience this place of legend first-hand.

Death Valley - Titus Canyon Video
As Titus Canyon Road in Death Valley reaches the foothills, it starts to climb and meander among the sagebrush and red rock outcroppings. The road becomes steeper and narrower as it approaches Red Pass, amply named for its red rocks and dirt. Enjoy the ride!


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DesertUSA is a comprehensive resource about the North American deserts and Southwest destinations. Learn about desert biomes while you discover how desert plants and animals learn to adapt to the harsh desert environment. Find travel information about national parks, state parks, BLM land, and Southwest cities and towns located in or near the desert regions of the United States. Access maps and information about the Sonoran Desert, Mojave Desert, Great Basin Desert, and Chihuahuan Desert.

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