AZTEC MAJOR ATTRACTIONSExplorers, rustlers, homesteaders, wildcatters, railroaders... Aztec's effervescent history epitomizes the Great American West. Today, we are a community rich in multi-cultural heritage, civic pride and ancestral traditions. Come play with us! Visitor Brochure (2.3 Mb)
With nearly 300 documented natural arches and windows in the immediate area, Aztec underscores the ethereal, Nikon-prompting beauty of the American Southwest. Search out breathtaking Arch Rock in Hart Canyon, or visit the spectacular Anasazi Arch in Cox Canyon. Turn-by-turn directions and maps are available at the Aztec Visitor Center or Aztec Arches page.
AZTEC ARCHESDownload Arches Wall Map 24" x 36" (PDF 1.2 Mb)
Download Arches GPS Data (ZIP 21 Kb)
Arches Map through ArcGIS Online App
Interested in learning more about natural arches and bridges? Visit the Natural Arch and Bridge Society website and become a member.
SITE ETIQUETTEThe arches are hundreds to thousands of years old. Some are very fragile and irreplaceable and your help is needed to preserve them for future generations to enjoy.
- Do not climb on the tops of arches.
- Pack out your trash.
Aztec Museum & Pioneer ParkGet a glimpse of Aztec's historic past by visiting the museum collections and the various historic structures within Pioneer Village. The complex houses one of the finest collections of authentic western Americana. History comes alive at the Pioneer Village, where young and old are bedazzled by the resolve and fortitude of our forefathers. Tour firsthand the doctor's and sheriff's offices, blacksmith and foundry, an 1880 pioneer cabin, general store and post office, and the Cedar Hill Church - all painstakingly reconstructed from the original buildings. aztecmuseum.org
Aztec Ruins National MonumentCenturies ago Aztec Ruins was a central gathering place, a thriving cultural capital for ancestral Puebloans. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a dazzling landmark to the roots of civilization. Tour the three-story, 450-room West Ruin. Explore the Great Kiva and marvel at 900-year-old roof timbers that shelter intact plaster rooms. Witness exquisite masonry before passing through mysterious T-shaped doorways. Mistakenly coined “Aztec” by others, the ancient Pueblo people lived and flourished at this very sacred and spiritual place. Aztec Ruins is one of New Mexico's more popular attractions, it boasts 45,000 visitors a year.
More about Aztec Ruins National Monument
Aztec Speedway is a locally owned clay surfaced automotive racetrack operating in summer months. We are an IMCA sanctioned track. Our featured cars are Modifieds, Stock Cars, Hobby Stocks, Late Models, Mini Stocks, and Sportmods. We also host special race events throughout the season.Visit Website
Chaco Culture National Historic ParkChaco Culture is ranked among New Mexico's top-five tourism destinations. From 850-1250 AD, the Puebloan community was one of the largest and most successful of its kind in the Four Corners. It is located 74 miles south of Aztec on U.S. Hwy. 550.
More about Chaco Culture National Historic Park.
Historic Main Avenue & Walking Tour
Aztec offers all your shopping needs in a quaint, historic atmosphere. On display are dozens of structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties. Viewing starts at the Old Fire Station (now home to the San Juan County Historical Society), continues into downtown and meanders into our heritage neighborhoods. Many of these historic places are described in a downloadable document: Historic Aztec Self-Guided Walking and Biking Tours (6.7 Mb).
The Walking Tour begins at the Aztec Museum & Pioneer Village, located at the north end of historic Main Avenue. The tour follows south, a captivating "back to the past" stroll that leads to an historic neighborhood just east of Main Avenue.
A keepsake souvenir guide identifying and describing each of the historic properties is sold for a nominal fee at the Aztec Museum. The photography rich guide greatly enhances the visitor experience and includes several properties and places not on the National Register of Historic Places.
Download Walking Tour (6.7 Mb) Brief Aztec History
Starting with Aztec Ruins National Monument, the tour takes you to the heart of Aztec's Historic Downtown, then to homes, churches and irrigation ditches built by early settlers. Much of the tour focuses on historic structures built in the early 1900s.
The farmers' market is your source for locally grown and produced foods and crafts direct from farmers, ranchers, and artisans.
The Feat of Clay Artists' Co-op was established in 2000 as a place for local area artists to sell their work. The co-op has been a place for locals and visitors alike to find one-of-a-kind art including jewelry, pottery, paintings, mosaics, photography, furniture, and more.
Old Spanish TrailIn 1829, Mexican trader Antonio Armijo, 60 men and 100 mules visited Aztec Ruins en route to California. Starting in Abiquiu, N.M., Armijo followed established Native American trails as well as the 1776 exploration of Franciscan missionaries Sivestre Velez de Escalante and Francisco Antanasio Dominguez. The Old Spanish National Historic Trail, designated by Congress in 2002, skirts Aztec's eastern edges. It spans more than 2,500 miles and is regarded as America's longest and most arduous pack mule route.
Old Spanish Trail Brochure (4.7 Mb)
Or learn more from their website: www.oldspanishtrail.org
San Juan County Historical Society
Located on historic Main Avenue, the newly remodeled Historical Society offers visitors a colorful landscape of Aztec's eclectic past, including the preservation and presentation of more than a century of records and images of Four Corners settlers, plus specialty books about the area. Were your great-grandparents friends or neighbors of Billy the Kid? Come by and find out!
San Juan County Historical Society Facebook Page
Victorian hotel with each room named after early pioneer families. Less than a mile for the Aztec Ruins National Ruins. We have all the amenities and fresh baked cinnamon rolls each morning. We are 20 miles from the quality fly fishing on the beautiful San Juan river. Come see us.Visit Website
| Aztec is your gateway to adventure out into the surrounding wilderness to see ancient Puebloan ruins, Dinétah pueblitos, and petroglyphs.
AZTEC RUINS NATIONAL MONUMENTLocated in the city limits of Aztec, Aztec Ruins National Monument should be your first stop to visiting ancient Puebloan ruins. A national monument and UNESCO World Heritage site, it includes 500 rooms and North America's largest reconstructed Great Kiva. The self-guided tour is approximately 45 minutes long. In addition, there is a museum, bookstore, restrooms, picnic area and regularly scheduled special events. Photos and more info.
CHACO CULTURE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARKLocated approx. 80 miles south of Aztec, Chaco Culture National Historical Park is another UNESCO World Heritage site. Central to the ancestral Puebloan culture it is located in a canyon that contains the largest excavated ruins in the Southwest. The area features hundreds of small sites and 13 major ruins, most of which are accessible by car or on foot. Photos and more info.
DINÉTAH ARCHAEOLOGY (Pueblitos and Petroglyphs)Located in various canyons east and south of Aztec, many of these pueblitos and petroglyphs (rock art) are accessible by four-wheel vehicle and short hikes. Pueblitos are generally found in defensible locations along mesa rims and on isolated outcrops and boulders. The structures themselves can consist of one to six rooms and take the form of multi-storied towers, cliff dwellings, and fort-like enclosures. The most popular sites available for public visits:
TRAIL OF THE ANCIENTS SCENIC BYWAYTrail of the Ancients Scenic Byway is a mesmerizing mix of landscapes carved into shapes of every kind by wind and water. Pause and appreciate the long occupation by native communities, present over a time spectrum rarely intact elsewhere. Extending from Paleolithic society to ancestral Puebloans to nomadic Navajo, Apache and Ute tribes to the impact of European settlers, these native communities endure. Visitors find centuries-old traditions still honored, and new practices and art forms constantly evolving.
1. AZTEC RUINS NATIONAL MONUMENTThis ancestral Puebloan community was active in the 12th and 13th centuries. The UNESCO World Heritage site offers 500-plus rooms and North America's only reconstructed Great Kiva. Watch the Video.
2. SALMON RUINS
Enjoy 11th century Puebloan ruins and a Chacoan great house, plus replicas of a sweatlodge, hogan, tipi and pithouse. View artifacts and browse the gift shop for Native American art. Traveler tip: Ask about the extraordinary, off-site "pueblito" and rock-art tours hidden within Largo Canyon. www.salmonruins.com
3. CHACO CULTURE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Formerly a major ceremonial and trade center, this UN3. CHACO CULTURE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK ESCO World Heritage site was active from 850-1250 A.D. Its world celebrity status is underscored in pre-planned architectural designs, astronomical alignments, geometry, landscaping and engineering. Watch the Video.
4. CROWNPOINTFamous for its area weaver auctions of Navajo rugs. Auctions are usually held the second Friday of each month. Artisans also sell jewelry and pottery. www.crownpointrugauction.com.
5. GRANTSFormerly a railroad coal station, Grants boomed when uranium was discovered in 1950. Visitors enjoy mined gems and a re-created uranium mine at the New Mexico Mining Museum.Town is a favorite stop along Route 66. www.grants.org
6. EL MALPAIS NATIONAL MONUMENTEl Malpais' jagged, molten lava landscape of lava tubes, cinder cones, pressure ridges and ice cave formed more than a million years ago. www.nps.gov/elma
7. BANDERA VOLCANO AND ICE CAVEOne of the country's finest examples of volcanic eruption, visitors also enjoy an ice cave where temperatures never rise above 31 degrees F. www.icecaves.com
8. EL MORRO NATIONAL MONUMENTA vital waterhole at its base made El Morro a popular stop for ancestral Puebloans, Spanish explorers and early American travelers. Some 2,000 names, dates, messages and petroglyphs are etched into its sandstone bluff. www.nps.gov/elmo
9. ZUNIThe six original Zuni pueblos were the legendary "Cities of Gold" sought be Vasquez de Coronado. Settled in 1699, Zuni is the largest of New Mexico's 19 pueblos and is celebrated for producing silver jewelry, stone fetishes and pottery. www.ashiwi.org
10. GALLUPGallup was a westward railroad stop, then later a Route 66 pass-through. Trading companies and pawn shops line Gallup's main streets, offering a wealth of Native American art and crafts. The annual Inter-Tribal Ceremonial in mid-August is a premier event with parades, dances, marketplace, contest powwow, rodeo and Native foods. www.ci.gallup.nm.us
11. TWO GREY HILLS TRADING POST (TOHATCHI)Two Grey Hills Trading Post is an historic post on the Navajo Reservation. Constructed of original stone and adobe, it remains the primary source of authentic, "Two Grey Hills" style regional rugs, known around the world as the finest in Navajo weaving. Rugs are made of hand-spun yarn from the fleece of naturally colored, local churro sheep. www.twogreyhills.com
12. TOADLENA TRADING POST (NEWCOMB)Toadlena supplies cash, services, and goods for approximately 1,500 Navajos that trade their hand-woven Native American rugs (available for purchase). www.toadlenatradingpost.com
13. SHIPROCKThis prominent landmark rises 1,800 feet above the desert plain on the Navajo Nation. A remnant of volcanic activity millions of years ago, Shiprock plays a significant role in Navajo religion, mythology, and tradition. It is a point of interest for photographers and several film productions and novels, including the newly released "The Lone Ranger." The rock formation is near the community of Shiprock, home to the Northern Navajo Fair, the oldest and most traditional of the Nation's fairs, held every October. www.discovernavajo.com
14. FARMINGTONFarmington is surrounded by world-class cultural treasures, magnificent landscapes, and thrilling river sports. Local museums highlight everything from fish and game to developments in electrical history to children's activities. Farmington Museum and Visitors' Center at Gateway Park exhibits the city's history, oil and gas industry, a trading post reproduction and rotating art exhibitions. www.farmingtonnm.org
15. BISTI DE-NA-ZIN WILDERNESSA federal wilderness area, the Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a desolate area of eroded badlands that offer some of the most unusual scenery in the Four Corners region. Time and nature have etched a world of fantastic rock formations that have become a favored wilderness experience. Bisti Wilderness Page