Three Rivers Village

Round Trip Distance: 0.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5000 - 5016 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Three Rivers Campground
Fee: $5/vehicle - $7/camping
Attractions: Jornada Mogollon Village

Located near the Three Rivers Petroglyph site is an ancient Jornada Mogollon (hor-nah-dah mo-go-yone) village consisting mostly of pithouses. The village was built over 1,000 years ago when the people became farmers planting mostly corn, beans and squash. A few of the buildings at the end of the short trail have been partially reconstructed to give visitors an insight to how the people lived.

The turnoff to the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site from New Mexico Highway 54 is 17 miles north of Tularosa and 27 miles south of Carrizozo. The Three Rivers Trading Post, where you can buy cold drinks and gifts, is right at the turnoff. It is another 5 miles after turning off of NM-54 to Three Rivers.

The Village trail begins near the southeast corner of the campground.

Signs along the trail provide a wealth of information about the village and the people who have inhabited the area at different times for over the last 10,000 years.

The entire length of the trail is smooth and well defined making it easy to follow and suitable for strollers.

At the entrance of the campground the trail crosses to the south side of the Three Rivers Road.

As the trail continues there are some trees off in the distance where the water source for the village was probably located.

After a short distance the trail passes through a fence and enters the village. A keen eye might be able to spot a few places where pithouses were once constructed although they are well hid by hundreds of years of natural reclamation.

The trail forms a loop as it comes to an end and pithouses can be seen around the edges as though arriving at a suburban cul de sac. The sign mentions that this pithouse was dug up by pot hunters rather than excavated by archaeologists.

The next pithouse was different as it's floor was cut into gypsum.

This structure was an adobe surface house that was built during the latter part of the villages occupation. Where pithouses were single room dwellings this surface house had at least three rooms.

Broken pieces of pottery can be spotted along the trail in places. Just like everything else in an archaeological site it is illegal to disturb or remove it.

There are a number of sites back at the campground that currently go for $7/night for a regular spot and $15/night for RV hookups. Besides the Visitor Center there is a restroom with running water and flush toilets. All in all a very nice setup for those that would like to spend a little extra time in the area. For those that have never seen a completely restored pithouse with a roof and everything a good example can be found at the Simon Ruin Heritage Park in Bloomfield, New Mexico. One of the nicest things about the Three Rivers Village is being able to get a feel for how the people that made all of those petroglyphs lived. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.