Tag Archives: Manzano Mountains

Living in the Land of Enchantment: Salinas Pueblo Missions

Abo Mission ruins

Abo Mission ruins

One of my favorite places to visit in New Mexico is actually split into 3 separate sites. The Salinas Pueblo Missions has three missions, Quarai, Abo and Gran Quivira. They are all located around Mountainair, NM. The Abo ruins are 9 miles west, Quarai ruins are 8 miles north and the Gran Quivira ruins are 25 miles south of Mountainair. I love visiting these sites and imagining a time when they were bustling villages. I wonder how they lived and what they did everyday to survive in this desert environment.

Quarai Mission ruins

Quarai Mission ruins, the largest of the 3 missions

Because of their remote location, there is rarely more than a couple of people wandering the ruins of any location. The Abo Mission is most visited as it sits near the highway to Mountainair. The Abo and Quarai Missions were built using red sandstone and the Gran Quivira Mission and pueblo was built with white/grey limestone. The red sandstone is especially beautiful when covered in snow.

Gran Quivira Pueblo ruins

Gran Quivira Pueblo ruins

All three were built during the 17th century during Spanish occupation. Although all sites were built as Spanish Missions, they also included Kivas in their buildings which could have been a concession to the beliefs of the Native Americans who lived there alongside the Spanish settlers. Nobody knows why all three sites were abandoned by the 1670s. My personal guess is they may have been abandoned after the pueblo revolt in 1680, when the pueblo indians from all over New Mexico chased the Spanish settlers out of the area. They would not return for 12 years. I would imagine, like other abandoned sites, water could have had something to do with it as well.


If you are looking for a day trip from Albuquerque, the Salinas ruins are a great choice. Make sure you fill up your gas tank and maybe even take a picnic lunch, as there isn’t much in the way of gas stations and food in the area. Mountainair does have a cafe or two, but gas can get expensive in those remote, rural areas of New Mexico. Pets are welcome, but must be kept on leash and cleaned up after.

Ruins of the Gran Quivira Mission

Ruins of the Gran Quivira Mission

All three sites are partially handicapped accessible and have handicap restrooms. All sites also have visitors centers with Rangers on hand to answer questions. All sites are open daily, 9 to 5 in winter months and 9-6 in the summer months. Of all the ruins I’ve personally visited across New Mexico, these three are most interesting to me. I highly recommend a visit next time you are in the area!


This Week’s Inspiration

This Monday we headed in the opposite direction from last week’s destination. South on I-25 past Belen to the Bernardo exit, east for about 25 miles to Forest Road 422, then north to the Pine Shadow trail in the Manzano Mountains.

Yesterday’s hike was a long, strenuous one! 11 miles round trip, we made it all the way to the top of Manzano peak. Manzano peak is at an elevation of 10,098 feet with a panoramic view in all directions. The trail climbs about 3,000 feet at a pretty consistent, moderate slope with some almost level areas towards the top.

One of the things I really like about this trail is that you don’t have to go very far to get an awesome view.

Osa had no intention of posing for pics, she was having way too much fun running up and down the hills. Every time I was able to get her near enough to take her picture, she turned away and ran off after another lizard, rabbit or squirrel. There were no cactus thorns to slow her down this time!

This trail had some areas burned by the forest fires last year, but it’s obvious a year later that fire can be a good thing. The forest floor is already coming back to life and even the tops of some of the trees still had life in them. Much of the brush had been burned away, revealing gorgeous geology, lots of quartzite and slate in a rainbow of colors; green, pink, white, black, red, blue, and yellow.

Although the high temps were in the 70s yesterday, by the time we got to the top, the wind chill made it feel more like the 40s. Good thing we brought our sweatshirts, hats and gloves!

Made it to the top in just under 3 hours!