Acoma Sky City and El Malpais, West of Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tuesday, we took a journey ourselves into the past and visited Acoma Pueblo or Sky City, about an hour southwest of Albuquerque. (Check out two great websites by clicking on each of the names of the town) On the way, we were impressed with the Enchanted Mesa, which raises about 400 feet above the desert floor.

The tour of Sky City was an amazing tour!! The city itself sits on a mesa, 360 feet above the desert floor, and has been carbon dated to 1150 AD, and there have been habited since.

The tour starts at the visitor center/museum at the base.

A van takes visitors up to the top for the tour of the pueblo.
The oldest continually inhabited community in North America, it is a National Trust Historic Site.
There is no running water, no electricity up on the mesa, and they prefer to keep it that way.
There are several cisterns in the community, where they get their water from,
The homes on the other side of the cistern are on the cliff and are three stories- there are two levels below the level seen!
The traditional Kiva (meeting house, with the ladder facing north, and the arrows pointing east and west.

This is the oldest “street”, with homes built over 100 years ago, with a dry cistern in front.

Although a few live there all of the time, most have other homes, and visit, especially during celebrations. The homes are passed down to the youngest daughter of the family.

Views were AWESOME!! To the North (note one of the cisterns, the outhouses, and the wood)

To the West, noting the oven!

East, another oven, cornfield in the background, on the desert floor

and South, where the San Esteban del Rey Mission and cemetery is.

The Mission took about 40 years to build, back in the 1600’s. Notice the tall base of the cemetery (bottom left of picture) in front of the church. It has five layers (last layer) of burials in it, with all of the sand for the layers between hauled up by the women in pots from the desert floor. Along the edge of the wall surrounding the cemetery are heads looking in, complete with eyes, to watch over the dead. There is a memorial cross for all of those buried in the bottom four layers. No pictures were allowed inside the mission or the cemetery.
Residents of the city make pottery, and there were vendors who set up the pottery and jewelry they made. We bought some homemade bread (which was baked in an oven like the ovens pictured) and small bowls from each of the two pictured.

I found more interesting doors, including the “mother-in-law door”!

Along with my doors, I could not pass up taking a close up picture of this window! Two-inch thick “Icing Glass” is set into the two-foot thick wall!

After the tour ends, the option to walk down is given….. a few of us decided to go that way instead of riding the van back. Lots of narrow rock steps, but well worth the walk for the close up views of more of the scenery

We made it down safe and sound!

Adjoining the Acoma land is El Malpais National Monument. More incredible views from on top of the sandstone!

Paul in one of the dry cisterns that resembled a bathtub!


along with the lava

La Ventana Arch is the largest accessible arch in New Mexico, with a thickness of 25 feet, 125 feet high and 165 feet across at the base.

Yes, that is patches of snow on the right of the arch in the lower picture 🙂
We were disappointed not to be able to go along the Chain of Craters Backcountry Byway, a dirt (jeepin) road that was closed due to snow and wet mud rendering it impassable. In addition to being a good 4-wheelin road, it led to Big Tubes area, an area that had some lava caves. So, another year, another stop!
In looking back at the pictures, none of them do justice for the beauty and the feel of this incredible place!

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