This past June, our family spend a month driving the entire distance of Route 66. One thing that surprised us was that Route 66 wasn’t just one long stretch of highway but a collection of highways that were assigned the Highway 66 designation. As cities grew and new roads were built, the designation changed as well.
One example of the change in route can be found in New Mexico. Up until 1937, Route 66 veered north up to Santa Fe before swinging back down to Albuquerque. This is the alignment we took on our recent vacation and are we glad we did because it gave us the opportunity to spend a little time at The Pecos National Historic Park.
What to see
The Pecos National Historic Park is home to several historic sites. The gem of the park are the remains of a very old Pueblo which date to the 1400s which is about the same age as the ruins found at Machu Picchu. The site also has the ruins of an old Spanish mission which dates back to the early 1600s. Both of these are easy to access via a short, 1.25 mile trail that loops around the ruins.
The Santa Fe trail also weaves its way through the area and during the Civil War, the Battle of Glorietta Pass was fought here. The Battlefield is currently closed for public viewing though visitors should contact the park officer for information about guided tours.
Planning your visit
Families interested in touring the Pueblos and mission can start their visit at the Peco’s visitors center where they can pick up a 3-ring notebook to use as a guide map for the interpretive trail. The rangers will recommend a short, introductory movie though if time is short, bypass the movie and head out the back door where the trail starts.
The trail is well marked and leads you through pinon, juniper, and ponderosa pine woodlands. As you wander around the trail viewing the ruins, keep your eyes open for the two reconstructed kivas that visitors are allowed to enter. We spend nearly an hour walking this trail and and finished up our stay at the Pecos National Historic Park with a tour of the museum found within the Visitors Center.
Things to know
*The Pecos National Historic Park is open daily (except for major holidays) from 8:00 to 4:30 with extended summer hours of 8:00 – 6:00 pm.
*Admission is $3 per person 16 and older.
*The site has shaded picnic areas and restrooms. Visitors should pack water with them to take along the trail since it’s quite easy to get dehydrated.
*The elevation of the Pecos ruins are 7000 feet. If you aren’t use to hiking at this elevation, we recommend you take it slow since it breathing requires a bit more effort.
*Visitors will also sunburn more easily. Be sure to lather up with sun screen and wear a hat.
*Plan on staying a minimum of 90 minutes though it’s quite easy to spend several hours here if you have the time.
For more information about the Pecos National Historic Park and its amazing history, check out the park website at National Park Service: Pecos.