Hitting the Trail: Aztec Ruins National Monument (Aztec, New Mexico)

Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!


Aztec Ruins National Monument (Aztec, New Mexico)

This national monument is small but packs a lot into a little space. The ruins themselves are, of course, the main attraction but the visitors center and friendly rangers were highlights as well. Visiting this monument was a wonderful introduction to the people and places that helped to shape this region.

From the National Park website:

Pueblo people describe this site as part of their migration journey. Today you can follow their ancient passageways to a distant time. Explore a 900-year old ancestral Pueblo Great House of over 400 masonry rooms. Look up and see original timbers holding up the roof. Search for the fingerprints of ancient workers in the mortar. Listen for an echo of ritual drums in the reconstructed Great Kiva.”

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Some Things to Know

Location: Aztec Ruins National Monument (Aztec, New Mexico)

Habitat: High desert scrub brush, with cottonwoods, along a riparian zone.

Favorite Plant & Animal Life: Bird life we have seen includes hawks, jays, magpies, starlings, and sparrows. We have also spotted rabbits and deer in the area.

Special Features: The reconstructed Great Kiva, with drums playing at the touch of a button, was amazing. They do not know the significance of all of the features, and some were not reconstructed correctly, as it was built in the 1930’s and much as been learned since that time, but the experience of being in there with the light low and drums pounding really help the imagination take over and apply all we had learned in the visitors center and during the self-guilded tour.

More photos of the Great Kiva and other areas of the monument can be found here, along with virtual tours and activites for kids to do online to learn more about Aztec Ruins.

Best Time of Year to Visit: The monument is open year-round and accessible most of the time. The height of summer heat and extreme winter cold might not make for the most ideal visit, but it does provide some perspective and is a great talking point with the kids about how people endured different types of weather and the reasons they may have migrated to other locations.

2 comments… add one

  • tamara December 17, 2013, 8:28 am

    Wow! Looks like an amazing place to visit. Love the idea of the drumming – sounds wonderful!

    • dawn December 19, 2013, 5:54 am

      It was very neat. The kids especially liked the drumming.

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