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Aztec Ruins National Monument

These ruins offer an exciting and rare glimpse of a restored kiva, which visitors can enter and sit within, sensing the site's ancient history. The ruins of this 450-room Native American pueblo, left by the ancestral Puebloans 7 centuries ago, are 14 miles northeast of Farmington, in the town of Aztec on the Animas River. Early Anglo settlers, convinced that the ruins were of Aztec origin, misnamed the site. Despite the fact that this pueblo was built long before the Aztecs of central Mexico lived, the name persisted.

The influence of the Chaco culture is strong at Aztec, as evidenced in the preplanned architecture, the open plaza, and the fine stone masonry in the old walls. But a later occupation shows the influence of Mesa Verde (which flourished 1200-75). This second group of settlers remodeled the old pueblo and built others nearby, using techniques less elaborate and decorative than those of the Chacoans. Aztec Ruins is best known for its Great Kiva, the only completely reconstructed Anasazi great kiva in existence. Visiting Aztec Ruins National Monument will take you approximately 1 hour, even if you take the .25-mile self-guided trail and spend some time in the visitor center, which displays some outstanding examples of Anasazi ceramics and basketry. Add another half-hour if you plan to watch the video that imaginatively documents the history of native cultures in the area.

Getting There -- Aztec Ruins is approximately a half mile north of US 550 on Ruins Road (C.R. 2900) on the north edge of the city of Aztec. Ruins Road is the first street immediately west of the Animas River Bridge on Hwy. 516 in Aztec.

Visitor Information -- For more information, contact Aztec Ruins National Monument, 84 C.R. 2900, Aztec, NM 87410-0640 (tel. 5505/334-7646, ext. 30; www.nps.gov/azru).

Admission Fees & Hours -- Admission is $5 for adults; children under 17 are admitted free. The monument is open daily from 8am to 6pm Memorial Day through Labor Day and 8am to 5pm the rest of the year; it's closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

Camping

Camping is not permitted at the monument. Nearby, Bloomfield KOA, on Blanco Boulevard (tel. 800/562-8513 or 505/632-8339; www.koa.com), offers 83 sites, 73 full hookups, tenting, cabins, laundry and grocery facilities, picnic tables, grills, and firewood. The recreation room/area has arcade games, a heated swimming pool, a basketball hoop, a playground, horseshoes, volleyball, and a hot tub.

Camping is also available at Navajo Lake State Park (tel. 505/632-2278).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.