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Native American Culture

From exquisite artwork and delicious food to authentic celebrations passed down from centuries earlier, nine Native American communities continue to weave an integral pattern into the fabric of Sandoval County.

Guests are encouraged to use respect, courtesy and common sense when visiting pueblos. Each community has its own set of rules regarding photography or any other method of recording images or sounds. When in doubt, be sure to ask before proceeding.

Historical Attractions

In 1540, Spanish explorer Coronado, on a quest for The Cities of Gold, stopped at what is now Coronado State Monument.

One mile northwest of Bernalillo on Hwy 1, the ruins of the Pueblo of Kuaua feature a museum and gallery showcasing kiva paintings. A self-guided trail meanders through the ruins, including a fully reconstructed kiva. One mile north of Jemez Springs on state Hwy 4 is Jemez State Monument, the prehistoric site of the Pueblo of Giusewa featuring the early 17th century ruins of the mission Church of San Jose de los Jemez. Visitors may wander through the excavated mission ruins and marvel at the construction of six-to eight-foot thick walls. The remains of a bell tower stand sentry above nave walls.

In the Village of Corrales, visit Casa San Ysidro. The restored Spanish Colonial Hacienda was built in the 1870′s on property that was a portion of the Township of Alameda Grant in 1704. The building is currently home to a collection of rare Hispanic New Mexican artifacts. Just off Hwy. 44 between Bernalillo and Santa Ana Pueblo is the historic Delavy House. Maintained by the Sandoval County Historical Society, the house contains more than 1,000 photographs depicting Sandoval County from 1880 to 1980 as well as village histories and genealogical information.

Bandelier National Monument, 14 miles south of Los Alamos off Hwy 4, is the site of extensive 12th-century pueblo cliff dwellings. Visit Anasazi ruins or explore the varied terrain of back-country trails. Recommended day hikes include: The Ruins Trail (paved), the Ceremonial Caves Trail featuring a 140-foot climb on ladders, and the Falls Trail.

El Zócalo means “the meeting place.” The historic 1874 convent was a place people came to meet, learn, exchange ideas. Today, its mission is the same. With its thick adobe walls and brick floors warmly refurbished, the 1874 convent is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The courtyard outside, with its fountains and grassy areas, provides a focal point for the building. The convent that is now El Zócalo was built on El Camino Real ("the Royal Road") for easy access to the people living, working and traveling by. El Camino Real follows the Rio Grande from the U.S./Mexico border to Santa Fe and for 300 years was the Southwest's main road for travelers. Portions of the road followed the Rio Grande Pueblo Indian Trail, in use since before the arrival of the first Spanish explorers.