Aztec Ruins National Monument is located at 725 Ruins Road in Aztec, New Mexico, just 36 miles south of Durango. This is a sacred site to the Pueblo people and is regarded as part of their migration journey. Today, you can stroll their ancient pathways and discover structures the date back over 900 years, including the ancestral Pueblo Great House with over 400 masonry rooms. Observe the fingerprints of long gone (but not forgotten) workers in the mortar who built these ever-lasting structures. The half-mile trail of Aztec Ruins holds ancient doorways and intact ancestral Pueblo rooms.
Your journey to this ancient site offers an intimate look into the spiritual past and history of the Pueblo people.
This historic site was built and occupied over 900 years ago by the largest Ancestral Pueblo community in the Animas River Valley. It was in use for over 200 years and contains several multi-story dwellings called “great houses,” each with a “great kiva,” which is a circular ceremonial chamber, along with smaller structures. The West Ruin was excavated in the 1900s and uncovered thousands of well-preserved artifacts, providing an intimate glimpse into the life of the Ancestral Pueblo people, connecting those in the past with the traditions of today. Modern Southwestern Native Americans continue to maintain deep spiritual ties with this ancestral site, and visitors can learn about these remarkable people, connecting with the monument’s timeless landscape and stories.
Start your journey at “Earl’s House.” The visitor center was originally the home of archaeologist Earl Morris. Here you will pay the entrance fee and get an orientation of the archeological site, as well as nearly 1,000-year-old artifacts. Travel a self-guided trail to explore the ancestral Great House that was the economic, social, and political center of the region. Walking through the original rooms, you’ll discover skillfully crafted stone masonry, well-preserved wood rooftops, with the highlight being the ceremonial Great Kiva; an awe-inspiring semi-subterranean structure, which is the oldest and largest reconstructed building of its kind.
The nearby town of Aztec offers a variety of tasty options for when you want to fuel up before or after your Aztec Ruins National Monument adventure. Rubia’s Fine Mexican Dining, the 550 Brewing Taproom & Pizza Parlor, Aztec Restaurant, and Blake’s Lotaburger are just a few. Some other fun spots to check out in the area are the Aztec Museum and Pioneer Village, the Aztec Sandstone Arches, and Escapology in nearby Farmington. If you love to go antiquing, check out the Memory Lane Antiques & Collectibles in Bloomfield, just 10 miles south of the monument.