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Puye Cliff Dwellings

Learn about the Pueblo Indians from these cave dwellings carved into the side of a cliff and atop a large mesa in the Rio Grande Valley.

The abandoned ruins of Puye Cliff Dwellings showcase the fascinating living conditions of Pueblo Indians who settled the Rio Grande Valley region between 900 and 1580. These cliffs comprise the largest complex on the Pajarito Plateau with hundreds of homes carved into the mountains and built on the surface. The villagers who farmed, hunted and lived in this arid valley are direct descendants of the Santa Clara peoples who now live several miles east of the area.

The site has two levels of cliff dwellings. Explore the lower level, which runs parallel to the base of the mesa for about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers). The upper level is far shorter. Climb the stairs and paths connecting the two layers. Take a tour with a docent who describes the history of the former settlers. Many guides are descendants of the Pueblo Indians who discuss contemporary social issues.

See the large central plaza in the midst of the cave dwellings. Note remnants of pottery and tools scattered on the floor around the site. Capture photos of the vista from atop the mesa. Explore the museum in the visitor center to see tools and artifacts that belonged to the Pueblo Indians. You can purchase memorabilia from the site’s gift shop.

Villagers left the area after a severe drought toward the end of the 16th century. In 1907, the Puye Cliff Dwellings became the first site of archeological excavation in the Rio Grande Valley region. They have been designated as a National Historic Landmark since 1966.

If you don’t have a car, take the New Mexico Rail Runner north to the Puye Cliff Dwellings from South Capitol Station in Santa Fe. The journey is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of the city and takes around two hours since there is a stop in Los Alamos on the way. It is quicker to drive directly to the site, as that takes under 40 minutes.


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Pueblo Canyon Inn
Pueblo Canyon Inn

Pueblo Canyon Inn

199 San Ildefonso Rd, Los Alamos, NM
     
    3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated in Los Alamos, this guesthouse is 2.3 mi (3.7 km) from Los Alamos Historical Museum and 2.5 mi (4 km) from Bradbury Science Museum. Pajarito Ski Mountain is 9.3 mi (15 km) away.

    Canyon Inn - Downtown Los Alamos
    Canyon Inn - Downtown Los Alamos

    Canyon Inn - Downtown Los Alamos

    80 Canyon Road, Los Alamos, NM
       
      2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in the heart of Los Alamos, this inn is within 1 mile (2 km) of Bradbury Science Museum and Los Alamos Historical Museum. Pajarito Ski Mountain is 8.3 mi (13.3 km) away.

      Comfort Inn & Suites Los Alamos £71
      Comfort Inn & Suites Los Alamos

      Comfort Inn & Suites Los Alamos

      2455 Trinity Dr, Los Alamos, NM
         
        2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        Situated near the airport, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Los Alamos Historical Museum and Bradbury Science Museum. Pajarito Ski Mountain is 7.2 mi (11.6 km) away.

        Los Alamos Flats
        Los Alamos Flats

        Los Alamos Flats

        3055 Trinity Drive, Los Alamos, NM
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated in Los Alamos, this condo is within a 15-minute walk of Los Alamos Historical Museum and Bradbury Science Museum. Pajarito Ski Mountain is 7 mi (11.3 km) away.

          The Inn at the Delta £110
          The Inn at the Delta

          The Inn at the Delta

          243 N Paseo de Onate, Espanola, NM
             
            3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated in Espanola, this bed & breakfast is within 12 miles (20 km) of Don Quixote Distillery and Winery, Chimayo Trading and Mercantile and Chimayo Museum. Santo Nino Chapel and El Potrero Trading Post are also within 12 miles (20 km).

            Santa Claran Hotel Casino
            Santa Claran Hotel Casino

            Santa Claran Hotel Casino

            464 N Riverside Dr, Espanola, NM
               
              0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated in Espanola, this golf hotel is within 9 miles (15 km) of Chimayo Trading and Mercantile, Don Quixote Distillery and Winery and Chimayo Museum. Santo Nino Chapel and El Potrero Trading Post are also within 12 miles (20 km).

              Rodeway Inn £37
              Rodeway Inn

              Rodeway Inn

              604-B S. Riverside Dr., Espanola, NM
                 
                2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in the heart of Espanola, this hotel is within 9 miles (15 km) of Don Quixote Distillery and Winery, Chimayo Trading and Mercantile and Chimayo Museum. Santo Nino Chapel and El Potrero Trading Post are also within 12 miles (20 km).

                Days Inn by Wyndham Espanola £61
                Days Inn by Wyndham Espanola

                Days Inn by Wyndham Espanola

                807 S Riverside Dr, Espanola, NM
                   
                  2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated in Espanola, this hotel is within 9 miles (15 km) of Don Quixote Distillery and Winery, Chimayo Trading and Mercantile and Chimayo Museum. Santo Nino Chapel and El Potrero Trading Post are also within 12 miles (20 km).