- New Mexico
Imagine beautiful lands filled with mysteries of ancient peoples – not what you expect to find in the USA.
Traces of history are easier to find in the USA than you think, especially in New Mexico: People have been living here for over 12,000 years. Some early civilizations have left their marks in the form of cliff dwellings, timeworn buildings and petroglyphs. Many of these sites are now part of the federally protected U.S. National Park Service, so information is easy to find online. And the sites’ locations near Albuquerque and Santa Fe make them easy to explore.
Petroglyph National Monument
Located on the west side of Albuquerque, Petroglyph National Monument protects a variety of cultural and natural resources, including five volcanic cones, hundreds of archaeological sites and petroglyphs aplenty. It’s one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, with about 25,000 designs and symbols carved into volcanic rocks. Most of the petroglyphs were created by early Spanish settlers and members of the Puebloan and other indigenous tribes who lived in the area roughly 400 to 700 years ago. The petroglyphs reflect cultural and religious practices of these groups, often playing a role in traditional ceremonies.
Drawings in Petroglyph National Monument date to ancient civilizations
Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Chaco Culture National Historical Park has the honor of being one of New Mexico’s three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, alongside Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Taos Pueblo. A three-hour drive northwest of Albuquerque, Chaco Culture National Historical Park is home to massive ancestral Puebloan structures, or great houses, dating from about 850 to 1150. The complicated mazes of interlinked rooms testify to a level of sophistication in engineering not seen anywhere else in the Southwest region of the USA at that time. You can explore the park by car, bicycle or on foot, and guided tours are offered from April through October. No visit to the park is complete without a little stargazing. Designated as one of only 12 International Dark Sky Parks by the International Dark-Sky Association, Chaco Culture park is one of the best places in the world to check out the constellations. Come for sunset and stay in the park for evening campfire talks and night sky programs.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site