October 27, 2011 – Aztec Ruins National Monument

We woke this morning to the cold – 37 degrees – brrr, and cloudy skies.  We hung out for a few hours until it cleared and then off we went to the Aztec Ruins National Monument.  First a side note… we followed the directions from our new GPS – Rand McNally 5510 – that took us to really bad dirt roads (which we decided not to take).   After a couple “recalculating” and no national park signs that we could see, we went back to town to find out where it was.   Lo and Behold, here was a very nice paved road right to the visitor center and the ruins.

So how do I feel about the new GPS?  Well some things I really like but…others like today, it leaves a lot to be desired…  (The GPS could not even find the Farmington PO today..not a good thing!)

Once we found the Visitor Center, we had a great time.

Here is some detailed info on the ruins:



We started out talking with one of the rangers and then a short film in the visitor center.  Afterwards we took the self guided tour thru these incredible ruins.

These ruins contain over 450 rooms that were built by the ancestors of people of many southwestern tribes.  Although the descendants call their ancestors by different names depending on their tribe, they are generally called “ancestral Puebloans.”

These ruins that have been unearthed are “the West Ruins”.  There are many others in this area but visitors are only allowed in the “West Ruins.”

“ Archeologist Earl Morris began the first scientific excavation in 1916.  He and his crew removed the overburden to reveal the buildings and thousands of artifacts.  These 400 plus rooms enclose a central plaza.  A large, round, semi-subterranean building, the Great Kiva, dominates the plaza.  Within a mile are scores of other structures, indicating an extensive, planned community.”

What amazed me the most is that these ruins are over 1000 years old.  The National Park Service is trying their best to preserve them as well as doing other archeological digs in the area.   And even though they do know a lot, they also know so little.  In 1300 AD, all the peoples who occupied this area were gone.. and they are not sure why (although there are many theories.).

Here is the slideshow of the ruins:



The building that amazed me the most was the Great Kiva:

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Above is the inside of the Giant Kiva.  Four massive pillars of alternating masonry and horizontal poles held up the ceiling beams, which in turn supported an estimated ninety five ton roof.  Each pillar rested on four shaped stone discs, weighing about 355 pounds apiece.  These discs are of limestone, which came from mountains at least forty miles away.    Now think about that…huge stones being carried at least forty miles.

Here is a picture of those stones..  the stones are original; the pillars are not:

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The fire box is in the center.  The purpose of the two floor vaults on either side of the fire box is not certain.  They may have been covered with wood planks and used as foot drums.   Perhaps they were used for germinating seedlings, as similar features are used in some pueblos today.

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What a great place.

We are learning more and more about our American Ancestors and it is fascinating us.

We checked into going to Chaco Canyon but right now with all the rain, the roads are poor so we will save that for another time.


After our tour, we stopped for lunch in the Aztec Restaurant – great lunch - and then slowly made our way back home.  We have decided to head west tomorrow.  We will be back in this area next spring – so much to do and see – so little time – :-))

Life is good so enjoy today!


Sharon Del Rosario said...

Thanks for the great slide show. We want to visit there, too. And I'm interested in hearing more about your new GPS. Hope it works out better on other roads.

Diane said...

Hi Sharon, I will continue to post the good and bad about it... I was really upset for the Aztec Ruins cause we could have been in deep trouble if we went the way it directed us. (Dirt roads that were very deep mud! - and then we could not have got in anyway - fences!!). Even when we were 1 block away from the visitor center, the GPS STILL wanted us to go back that other way. Very strange - may contact RM on that instance..
Hope all is well with you - and safe travels.