Aztec Ruins Monument contains the remains of prehistoric Anasazi structures and is the second most important area in the Chaco area of ancestral Pueblo culture occupied between 850 and 1250. The ruins were named when European settlers mistakenly attributed them to the Aztecs. The site received UNESCO World Heritage designation in 1987 as part of the Chaco Culture World Heritage Site. Continue reading
The San Juan County Archaeological Research Center and Library at Salmon Ruins is a operated by San Juan County and includes a museum, the research center and library, and the ruins of an pueblo village. The library has more than 17,000 books, periodicals, and technical reports on archaeology, anthropology, geology and regional history. While the library is open to the public for research purposes, check-out privileges are limited to members of the San Juan County Museum Association, the San Juan County Archaeological Association and the Totah Tracers. The Division of Conservation Archaeology (DCA) also has its offices at Salmon Ruins. The DCA provides a wide variety of services including archaeological site recording, cultural resource surveys, and historic structure preservation field and site surveying.
The Salmon Ruins Museum has a Heritage Park and trail where you can see 11th century Salmon Ruins and a Chacoan great house, replicas of a sweatlodge, Hogan, tipi and pithouse, and the park trail ends at the Salmon Family Homestead that has a carriage house, a bunk house and root cellar. There is a Trail Guide to aid you as you roam over the site.
Address: 6131 U S Highway 64, Bloomfield, NM 87413
Hours: May through October: Monday through Friday. 8 am to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday, 9 am to 5 pm. November through April: Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm, Saturday 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday, noon to 5 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Admission: Adults, $4. Seniors (60 and older), $3. Children ages 6 to 16, $1. Children 5 and under, free.
The Western New Mexico University Museum has the world’s most comprehensive permanent exhibition of prehistoric Mimbres Mogollon pottery and artifacts. Exhibits include separate displays of basketry, footwear, cordage, stone tools, and stone and shell jewelry.
The museum also has exhibits about the history of WNMU and the Silver City area, the Scott Nichols Buggy Collection, American Indian tourist items, and a collection of mining tools.
The museum is located in Fleming Hall on the WNMU campus. The building was built between 1916 and 1917 to house the gymnasium and a science hall for what was then the New Mexico Normal School. Fleming Hall later served as the University library before it became home for the museum in 1974.
Address: Western New Mexico University Museum, Fleming Hall, 1000 W. College Avenue, Silver City, NM 88062
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Also worth seeing while in the area:
The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, operated by the National Park Service, are what remains of a series of interlinked dwellings built in five cliff alcoves. The dwellings were built by the Mogollon peoples, probably around 1300.
Visiting the dwellings requires hiking a well-traveled, 1-mile trail loop with several foot bridges over a stream. The walk takes about an hour. The first half of the trail, which takes you to the dwellings, is up hill. Some of the trial is steep. After you visit the dwellings, the trail is all down hill.
There’s a small museum near the trailhead with displays about nature and wildlife. The visitor center, which is a few miles from the trailhead, also has a small museum that focuses on the dwellings. A looping video tells the story of the cliff dwellers.
Address: 44 New Mexico 15, Silver City, NM 88061
The cliff dwellings are in the Gila Wilderness within the Gila National Forest on NM 15. Although the distance from Silver City is 44 miles, the drive takes about 2 hours because of the winding mountain road. (An alternative is along NM 35 through the Mimbres Valley, which is 25 miles longer but less winding and easier to drive, so it takes about 2 hours, too.)
Hours: Cliff Dwellings: Daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Last visitors are allowed on the trail at 4 p.m., and must be off the trail by 5 p.m.)
Visitor center: Daily, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Admission: Fees are collected at a self-self station at the trailhead to the cliff dwellings, so bring exact change or a check. (You can pay by credit card at the visitor center.) Families, $10. Adults, $3. Children age 15 and younger, free.