Pecos National Historical Park

Round Trip Distance: 1.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 6890 - 6968 feet
Cellphone: 1-4 bars
Time: 1 hr. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Visitor Center
Fee: none
Attractions: Pueblo, kivas, Mission

The Pecos National Historical Park is located about 21 miles east of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The park protects numerous ruins that are all part of the Pecos Pueblo, a 'thriving village of perhaps 2,000 people', as well as a Spanish Mission Church that was originally constructed in 1625 and then rebuilt to a fraction of its original size 100 years later.

The parks address is 1 Peach Drive, Pecos NM 87552. To get there take I-25 exit 299, if coming from Santa Fe, or exit 307 if coming from the north. The Visitor Center is just off of NM-63, 2 miles south of Pecos or 4 miles from exit 307.

The trail can be accessed through the Visitor Center where they have trail guides and a small gift shop. At present there is no user fee to see the ruins.

The trail starts out along a wide hard packed gravel path with a slight uphill grade.

At the top of the small mesa the trail splits, with one branch taking a more direct route to the mission, while going in the opposite direction the trail loops around the Pecos Pueblo enroute to the Mission.

Off to the side of the trail at the first fork sits a partially restored kiva that visitors are allowed to explore by climbing a short ladder. The original kiva probably had plastered and painted walls. Another kiva that has been restored can be found near the southwest corner of the church.

The trail crosses the top of the mesa as it travels through the north pueblo looping back toward the mission.

Visitors are asked not to pick up any of the fragments of pottery that they might notice on the ground. Descendants of the pueblo people believe that the shards of pottery, as well as the ruins and other artifacts, are imbued with the spirits of those that created and used them.

The remaining walls of the 1717 Mission Church sit on parts of the same foundation of the 1625 structure. Apparently there were 2 other small churches nearby; a 1617 church and a one room church that was used for a short time.

Walking through the church one can't help but be amazed at the thickness of the adobe covered walls.

To get back to the Visitor Center you can either return past the south pueblo or follow another trail that loops by the upper parking area as it continues down to the Visitor Center.

Inside the Visitor Center is a very nice museum with many fine examples of pottery and a pictorial history of the pueblo periods.

Some maps have the site labeled as Pecos National Monument. The main difference in the naming is due to the reason for preserving the land which in this case is its historic or archaeological significance. The Park Service appears to be putting forth a great deal of effort in not only protecting the Pecos Pueblo and Mission but in restoring parts of it for visitors to better appreciate its grandeur. With easy access off of a major interstate the Pecos National Historical Park is well worth the little extra time it takes to visit. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.