Learn the History and Culture of the Zuni People
The Zuni Pueblo is found on the western border of New Mexico, just south of Gallup. As the largest of New Mexico’s nineteen pueblos, the Zuni have an immense influence, recognized to a large degree through their intricate forms of art. This is a thriving community of talented artists practicing ancestral techniques to produce unquestionably unique inlaid silverwork, stone carvings, and pottery.
Meet Kenny Bowekaty
Zuni Native Kenny Bowekaty is a Zuni guide who provides historical context into his people, their culture, and the land they inhabit. He invites outsiders into an intimate setting in order to teach them the importance of the Zuni people’s past and present influence.
While a lot of the Zuni Pueblo’s ceremonies are not open to outsiders, you can still support the Zuni by visiting and participating in what they have to offer. You could take a walking tour of the historic Middle Village Pueblo, or head into the A´shiwi A´wan Museum and Heritage Site to delve into the complex history of the Zuni peoples. Support the local artisans by investing in traditional Zuni art or schedule a tour of local artists' workshops. Additionally, a qualified Zuni guide can take travelers from the Visitor Center to the important archaeological, historical, and spiritual places within the pueblo, so inquire at the museum for more information.
With Gallup sitting between the Zuni Pueblo and the Navajo Nation, this city is a major hub for Native American art and culture. You can visit the Gallup Native Arts Market or the Gallup Cultural Center to learn more about Gallup's history or head into one of the many trading posts to purchase authentic Native artwork. The city's location on historic Route 66 continues to be a part of Gallup's identity, including Mother Road-era architecture and classic neon. In addition to its cultural heritage, Gallup has a beautiful surrounding landscape that is perfect for all types of outdoor adventure!
Other Things to see in Northwest New Mexico
Twilight Tours at the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary
Southeast of the Zuni Pueblo lies the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary where wild canids are provided rehabilitation and lifelong care in a safe environment. You can educate yourself with a walking tour of the sanctuary or try their Twilight Tour to see a different side of these wild animals. Hop on the website below or give them a call for more information on how you can visit these spectacular beasts.
El Morro National Monument
Hidden in the rolling sandstone bluffs west of El Malpais, there has been a respite for many centuries for travelers and explorers alike. This cliff band bears the marks of Ancestral Puebloans, early Spanish colonial settlers, and American railroad prospectors, who layered their names and messages on top of one another for hundreds of years. The Inscription Rock Trail will take you to the watering hole, weaving past petroglyphs and inscriptions. This is a paved trail and is wheelchair-accessible with some assistance. The park offers more challenging trails for more venturous outdoorspeople; just keep an eye out for some of the larger wildlife that inhabit the park.
Visit Red Rock Park
Red Rock Park is an amazing specimen of how the land was formed over 200 million years ago. The red cliffs that loom over the canyons below are a must-see with miles of hiking trails woven throughout the cliffs. You can hop on one of the flagship trails for a few miles, or if you are looking for a more in-depth jaunt through the landscape, you can check out the High Desert Trail system with more than 22 miles of trails for hiking or biking.
El Malpais National Monument
Characterized by the black basalt landscape of past volcanic eruptions, El Malpais National Monument is a must-see for any adventurers in New Mexico. The monument offers many options for exploration, from easy drives and short walks to long hikes in the backcountry or throughout sprawling caves and rock formations. Don’t miss the Ice Cave on the western edge of the national monument: This collapsed lava tube never strays from 31 degrees Fahrenheit, not even on the hottest summer days!
Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Chaco Culture National Historical Park is not just a beautiful example of Ancestral Puebloan engineering feats, but it’s also a chance for visitors to learn and connect with the culture surrounding this invaluable historical site. Chaco Culture is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an International Dark Sky Park, so you can explore the history through the landscape the Ancestral Puebloans lived in and the skies they looked to every night. In addition to the many hiking trails, cultural sites, and dark-sky viewings, there are also lectures at the observatory covering mainly astronomical practices of the humans that once inhabited the Chaco landscape.
While the recorded history of Aztec does not begin until the late eighteenth century, there are many remnants of an ancestral past. From strolling through historical downtown Aztec, to the Aztec National Monument, intrigued travelers have much to explore. Visit the Aztec Museum to learn more about its history or visit one of the city parks on the banks of the Animas River. If you’re looking for sport, check out one of the many biking trails, like Alien Run, which purports to run right past a UFO crash-landing site!