National Historical Park
About the SiteThe Pecos pueblo lay midpoint in a passage through the southern end of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, in northern New Mexico. The pueblo and a Spanish mission, both now in ruins, share a small ridge. A thousand years ago this village sat astride the trade route between Pueblo farmers of the Rio Grande and buffalo hunting tribes of the plains. The Pecos indians were the middlemen, taking in buffalo hides, slaves, flint and shells from the mostly Apache nomads, to exchange for the textiles, turquoise, pottery and crops that the river Pueblos could offer. The Pecos indians became powerful and populous, housing over 2,000 inhabitants and able to field 500 fighting men. In the 1400s, just before the Spaniards arrived, they had created a multi-storied towns that overlooked the streams and fields that nourished their crops.
What You're Going to SeeToday ruins of both the Pecos Indians structures, and the Spanish Mission built next door, are standing as a reminder of what once was here. Visitors can walk along a path with a free guidebook in hand and learn about where people lived here for the last 1,000 years. On the Spanish side, the mission church half-survives, giving visitors an idea of its original size; we understand that this is the smaller of two that were built here. Also partly reconstructed are many small rooms for the priests and the many helpers who took care of the day-to-day functions of the place, along with corrals for the various animals.
Personal ObservationsThe weather was wonderful for our visit to Pecos NHP. It was a cloudy day in New Mexico, and rain threatened but never delivered, so the temperature was perfect. Pecos wasn't very busy; I think there might have been four or five other groups wandering around with us, some in the visitor center, some on the path. The kids seemed to like this; we prefer self-guided tours, and the little brochure was clear and concise about what we were seeing. More importantly, it wasn't a long walk, merely several hundred yards, with plenty to see as we made our way around. The visitor center says the trail is 1.25 miles long, but it seemed shorter to me. We had fun here. It wasn't something I'd call fantastic, but certainly well worth the effort of seeing. Pecos does offer guided tours, so call ahead and see what's available on the day you visit. There is a Junior Ranger program for the kids, and it's a great little Park for them to run around and explore. There is no camping in the park, but the town of Pecos is two miles away and has a couple of inns. Pets are allowed on the trail if leashed. And remember, Pecos is at 7,000 feet, so use caution if you're not used to the altitude.
Getting ThereFrom Santa Fe, take I-25 east for about fifteen miles to exit 299 at Glorieta. Take Route 50 east for about eight miles to the town of Pecos, and then take Route 63 south for about two miles to the Pecos NHS turnoff.
Nearby AttractionsFort Union National Monument is about 50 miles east northeast. Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is about 90 miles to the south. Petroglyph National Monument is about 75 miles to the southwest. Bandelier National Monument is about 40 miles to the northwest.