Doing a complete tour of the ancient native heritage sites of the Southwest is a very lengthy commitment to make. It can take several months just to tour the ancient sacred places in New Mexico alone, only to find that even more lesser known sites await to be experienced after doing a little more research. Not all of the ancient sacred places are open to the public, so a complete tour can never really be accomplished. Therefore it is best to just visit a few sites at a time while doing a touring loop and save the rest for later.
The touring loop option can easily be done in New Mexico, because the way the ancient sacred places are situated. A trip to two or three sites can easily be planned that only takes one or two days to cover. For example, the Santa Fe region is a popular ancient native heritage touring loop that takes two days to experience. Jemez Springs, Bandelier and Tent Rocks can all be experienced when doing the Santa Fe loop. Of course, much more time can be spent on this Santa Fe touring loop, because there are so many points of interest along the way.
The Jemez Historic Site is located on New Mexico State Road 4 in Jemez Springs. This location is just a few miles away from the Santa Fe National Forest, Valle Caldera National Preserve, Los Alamos and Bandelier National Monument. There are several recreation areas along the Jemez River on SR 4 south of the historic site and the Jemez Pueblo Welcome Center is nearby. The pubs in Jemez Springs are famous for being a haven for weekend warriors, so needless to say, there is plenty going on in this neck of the woods!
The Jemez Historic Site signage is easy to spot and the parking is adequate. This New Mexico State Historic Site can be accessed by the physically challenged and most of the hiking paths are paved. The entrance fee is a real bargain and navigating the grounds is as easy as a stroll in a park. The mountainous high elevation setting is as picturesque as can be and there are plenty of shade trees to be found, so this is cool place to be during the summer season!
The main features of the Jemez Historic Site are a fully restored kiva, the ancient Giusewa Pueblo and the San Jose De Los Jemez Mission ruins. The beginnings of the Giusewa Pueblo predate the the Spanish explorers that came around in the 1600s and this ancient pueblo was occupied when the foreigners arrived. Apparently the first round of Spaniards established a mission in the pueblo, but it was not till the 1700s when the big Spanish Mission was built on site.
The reason why the San Jose De Los Jemez Mission looks so much like the native great house pueblos in this region is because the same people that built and lived in the Giusewa Pueblo also built the mission building for the Spaniards. It is easy to think that the native people looked upon the Spanish Mission as being a welcome addition to their own pueblo complex, but this was not the case. The ruling party of Spaniards were not well liked due to many acts of greed and cruelty, so a rebellion was staged. The Spanish were basically kicked out permanently and this is when the big mission building truly became part of the existing pueblo design. Descendants of this freedom loving culture live in this area to this day and more can be learned by visiting the nearby Jemez Pueblo Visitor Center.
One of the most interesting features of the Jemez Historic Site is the fully functional kiva. I have only been inside one other restored functional kiva and that was at the Aztec Ruins near Four Corners. If you have never been inside a ceremonial kiva before, the experience certainly will be enlightening!
The Jemez Historic Site definitely is a great place to visit when doing a New Mexico ancient pueblo loop tour in the Santa Fe region! There are several ancient pueblos that are still occupied in this region and there are some great trading posts too, so there will be good opportunities to learn from cultural exchange along the way. A lot of history was made at the Giusewa Pueblo in Jemez Springs and the Spanish influence has been preserved in the local architectural style. This all means only one thing, which is Jemez Springs happens to be great place to chow down on some real deal Mexican food and some tasty local green chiles, so this is reason enough to get up and go!
Leave no trace!
Destination West YouTube channel! https://www.youtube.com/@DestinationWestOrg
Donations help the Destinaton West project continue into the future!
Go Fund Me!
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies