Puye Cliffs Scenic Byway is a pleasant drive through four of New Mexico’s seven life zones, an area of low hills blanketed by piñon, juniper and grama grass.
Its seven short miles give no indication of the spectacular surprise that awaits a traveler at its termination – the towering heights of Puye Cliff Dwellings, a National Historic Landmark. The rolling hills start to flatten out after a few miles of driving, and the road continues to climb. Puye Cliffs is visible in the distance, and the Jémez Mountains appear on the horizon. As you pull in to park for your tour of the ruins, you will see a view very similar to the one that visitors saw in the early part of the 20th century. Two buildings stand at the base of the mesa, both made from shaped volcanic tuff blocks found at the site. The mesa-top pueblo is the largest ancestral native settlement on the Pajarito Plateau, once supporting a population of 1,500 people.