Gran Quivira Ruins

Round Trip Distance: 0.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 6500 - 6554 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 45 mins.
Trailhead: Visitor Center
Fee: none
Attractions: Spanish mission, pueblo

The Gran Quivira Ruins are located 25 miles south of Mountainair, New Mexico and are part of the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument along with the Abó Ruins, 9 miles west of Mountainair, and the Quarai Ruins, 8 miles north of Mountainair. The grayish-green colored limestone from which the ruins are constructed contrasts with the more reddish sandstone construction found at the other sites. Another big difference between Gran Quivira and the other sites is that it wasn't built near a source of water like a stream or spring and yet it was the largest of the Salinas pueblos.

Gran Quivira is 94 miles south of Albuquerque via Interstate 40 and 25 miles south of Mountainair. The ruins are open daily between 9am and 5pm except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years day. At present there is no fee to visit the ruins.

From the parking area it is several hundred feet along a paved path to the Visitor Center.

Right behind the Visitor Center the trail splits with a ramp on the right side of the trail that follows a zigzag route up to the ruins on top of the mesa.

From there the paved path takes a more gradual route around the mesa. Either way the trail probably has a slope that precludes it from being classified as wheelchair accessible without some assistance.

As the trail reaches the mesa top it passes between several kivas that at one time were located in the central plaza of the pueblo.

When you view the rooms of the pueblo you might notice that most of the rooms have no doors or windows. That is because they were entered through a hole in the roof.

The rooms of the mission on the other hand all have doorways and a few even have windows. Here the rooms are connected with each other by hallways. One might wonder whether this architectural design concept was as strange to the pueblo Indians as the Spaniards monotheistic religion was to their own kachina culture.

The pueblo was abandoned by 1670 due to a severe multi year drought. Work stopped at that time on the main sanctuary of the mission and it was never completed. If you examine the limestone carefully you might be able to spot a fossil.

 The long ramp provides a quick escape back down to the Visitor Center.

Be sure to take a few minutes to see some of the beautiful artifacts that are in the museum.

While the ruins at Gran Quivira are similar in architecture to other pueblos they still have a few particular aspects that make them unique. They were apparently an important trade center between the Apaches on the plains and the other pueblos. One commodity of worth that they had to offer was salt from the nearby Salt Lakes or Las Salinas. It also seems, according to the pamphlet, that they obtained their water from a series of 32 wells located 3/4 of a mile away that ranged from 20 to 50 feet in depth. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.