Just a couple hours away from Cortez was today’s destination. Aztec, New Mexico is the home of the Aztec Ruins National Monument. At this well preserved site you take a self guided walking tour. The ranger in the information center gives you a booklet that explains each point of interest. You take as much time as you want walking through the 450 room West Ruin. You can even go into many of the rooms through the small doorways. The giant Kiva below has 900 year old roof timbers. At the end of the tour we spoke with a Navaho woman who makes beautiful jewelry. She was the person who told us to visit nearby Salmon Ruins, which became our second stop.
Aztec Ruins National Monument
We are walking the self guided tour in and around the buildings.
Our next stop was not on our itinerary. You get the best advice from talking to the local people. We struck up a conversation with a Navaho woman who was making jewelry outside of the information center. We told her our next stop was Chaco Canyon. Low and behold that was close to where she and her husband grew up. She called it her childhood playground. She gave us some information about that and then told us to see Salmon Ruins in nearby Bloomfield, New Mexico. She said it wasn’t preserved as well as other sites but we thought it was wonderful. Besides that, we were the only ones visiting it at the time! We had the place to ourselves and that was crazy. Here you again get a booklet and take a self guided tour. We were allowed to go into many of the rooms which gives you a real clue as to how it felt to live there.
The ruins date to AD 1088 – 1090. It was lived in by the Ancestral Puebloans until about 1250. The name Salmon Ruins comes from the 1877 homesteader, Peter Milton Salmon. It was his descendants who helped to preserve and protect the site.