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Albuquerque Innsights

Former New Mexico innkeeper knows secrets and tells anyone who will listen.

Puye Cliffs – Ancient Ruins at Santa Clara Pueblo, NM

Ancient Ruins. They’re part of the Southwest United State Culture, and if you are visiting New Mexico you have many choices on what to visit when it comes to Ancient Ruins. I have already written here about the Salinas Pueblo Mission Ruins, twice because I love them, but now I’d like to tell potential New Mexico visitors about Santa Clara Pueblo’s Puye Cliffs.

Puye is pronounced poo yay, and means “place where the rabbits gather” in the Tewe language.

Located in Central New Mexico, not far from Albuquerque and even closer to Santa Fe you will find Santa Clara Pueblo, a member of the Eight Northern Pueblos and one of 19 Pueblos in New Mexico.

The people of Santa Clara are Tewe. Their ancestral home, is 10 miles west of the present day village and is called Puye Cliffs. Santa Clara is famous for it’s pottery, blackware and redware, deeply engraved. Recently they have decided to share their ancient past with the general public and Puye Cliffs, although ancient in itself, is new to us and is waiting for you to explore with the people of Santa Clara as your guides.

For those of you out there who know of Fred Harvey, Harvey Houses and Harvey Girls, you will be happy to see the only Harvey House ever built on a Native American Reservation. This Harvey House is located below the ruins on Santa Clara land and now serves as a tour site, interpretive center and gift shop.

There are many different tours on site, but I recommend doing all three – the Harvey House, The Cliffside and the Mesa Top – to really get the whole experience. It only takes 2 1/2 hours. There are dwellings in the cliff face and on top of the mesa, and together they are the largest of the settlements of the Pajarito Plateau, which is a geological area formed by the by the eruptions of the Jemez Volcano. We now call this volcano the Caldera, and it is very near the Bandelier Cliff Dwellings in the Jemez Mountains. All are well worth a visit too. The land holding the Caldera was once known as the Baca Land Grant, but was purchased by the US Federal Government, renamed the Valles Caldera and is to be held in perpetuity for the people. Not everyone feels this was a good move.

Puye Cliffs tour discounts are available for children and seniors, but please leave the pets at home. While reservations aren’t required during regular business hours, there is a maximum daily capacity. Ensure your place in one of our daily tours by going to their website to submit your request for one or all the tours, and to be sure Puye Cliffs is open on the day you’d like to visit.

This is good stuff folks, so plan on it. Don’t miss out!

I know the best things to do in Albuquerque!
Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed and Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!

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copyright 2009 :: sarah dolk, adobe nido bed and breakfast, albuquerque nm :: photos by susan see, abq, nm & marianne groszko, mariannephotography.net