"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico

Dancing Eagle Casino & RV Park
Casa Blanca, New Mexico

Last year when we were on our way from Colorado to Arizona we stopped in Casa Blanca, NM for a few days specifically to see the Acoma Pueblo which is a National Historic Landmark.  My parents were here several years ago and thought we'd really enjoy it.  We stayed just off I-40 at the Dancing Eagle Casino.  They have a very small and plain, yet very clean, RV Park.  Really just a gravel parking lot with full hookups and a small store/laundry in a gated area.  But only $11 a night.  Perfect stopover if you're driving this way.  It is about an hour and a half east of the border of Arizona.
Last year however, we never did get to see the Acoma Pueblo because the directions given to us took us down the west side of the El Malpais National Conservation area.  This drive took us 2 hours.  We did see several wonderful things, but by time we realized we were on the wrong side we would've missed the last tour anyway.  So this year we chose to come back this way so we could see it.
The correct road is a left turn out of the casino RV park directly to the village.  Duh.  Only a 20 minute drive.  Another spectacular drive with gorgeous scenery!  The weather was very iffy with a storm coming but we hoped it would just clip us and leave with so we'd have a sunny tour.

What is the Acoma Pueblo? The Acoma have continuously occupied the area for more than 800 years, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. Acoma tribal traditions estimate that they have lived in the village for more than two thousand years.  They descend from the Anasazi and Mogollon tribes.  The Pueblo is situated up on a 365 foot mesa, about 60 miles west of Albuquerque. You can learn more about their history HERE. They offer a great tour for $25 that takes you up to the Mesa in a bus where you are walked around by a local tribe member.  Great tour!  For tour info click HERE.  This is an amazing place and a must see.
This is picture from the internet of an aerial view.  Then village was built on top of this mesa! They were safe up here because it was built up on a rock out of reach, having steep sides in every direction. There was only one entrance by a stairway built by hand of about 200 steps, then a stretch of about 100 narrower steps. There was a wall of large and small stones at the top, which they could roll down without showing themselves, so that no army could capture the village.
The tour starts out at the church of San Estevan Rey built in 1641.  There is no photography allowed in the church or cemetery. Acoma Pueblo has no electricity, running water, or sewage disposal. A reservation surrounds the mesa, totaling 600 square miles. Tribal members live both on the reservation and outside it with about 30 families living full time in 300 homes on the mesa. You can now drive up to it as there was a road blasted up one side in the 1950s.  Most come back just for the winter or vacations.
There are cisterns (above) that collect snow and rain water.
I could not get a good picture, but there were several crows flying all round the mesa.  Just the mesa though.  It was really strange.  Kind of gave you goosebumps.
Ladders are used to access the 2nd and 3rd stories.

A traditional mud adobe oven called a horno.

This house above had a fantastic view (below).
What amazing views from up here.

Loved all the painted trim.

The square window on the lower floor in the above picture is made of mica. It is the last one left in Acoma. Legend has it that the Spanish saw the sun reflecting off the mica and thought there was gold in the Pueblos.
Mica window.

There is still no plumbing but they have built portable bathrooms.  (Brown buildings to the right)

At the end of our tour you could take the bus back down or you could walk those ancient steps down the mesa where they walked ions ago before the road was built.  Only us and one other couple chose to take the steep steps down.  Our tour guide was pretty funny.  Someone asked how long it would take to get down if they didn't want to take the van.  He said, depends.  If you take the 300 steps, maybe 30 minutes, but if you just take one step, it would take about 3 seconds. Ha, ha!
The steps were small, steep, uneven and slippery.  We felt very privileged  to walk these steps. I'm surprised that they let you do it as no one could find you if you fell or got stuck for some time.

This was the difficult area. It's hard to tell, but in the lower left picture, in the middle, are just tiny cuts made into the rock so you had to do some tricky maneuvering to get down.

I'm so glad we chose to take the ancient steps down.  It was a nice walk back to the museum where we spent time looking at old history and stories of recent tribe members.  The rocks were so colorful.

The weather held out perfectly for us.  Other than a short drizzle at the beginning, it was sunny and dry.  The Acoma people were very friendly and we enjoyed their stories.  There were beautiful pottery you could buy at the top of the mesa and fry bread made on the spot. We picked up a couple of small pottery items.
We were so glad to be able to see the Acoma Pueblo.  Thanks Mom for the suggestion!


  1. Sorry we missed this while we were doing a big Native American tour last spring. Oh, well, now we have a reason to return to the area. How cool to be able to take the stairs down! Beautiful area!

    1. It was a wonderful place to visit. Hard to explain, but taking those stairs down was very special. Our favorite part.

  2. Thhanks for finally writing agout >"The Acomma Pueblo, New Mexico" <Liked it!

  3. Really enjoyed reading about your trip to Sky City! Great pictures and information!


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