Once, thriving Native American trade communities of Tiwa and Tompiro-speaking Puebloans inhabited this remote frontier area of central New Mexico. Early in the 17th century Spanish Franciscans found the area ripe for their missionary efforts. However, by the late 1670s the entire Salinas District, as the Spanish had named it, was depopulated of both Indian and Spaniard. What remains today are austere yet beautiful reminders of this earliest contact between Pueblo Indians and Spanish Colonials: the ruins of three mission churches, at Quarai, Abó, and Gran Quivira and the partially excavated pueblo of Las Humanas or, as it is known today, the Gran Quivira pueblo.
It was first proclaimed Gran Quivira National Monument on November 1, 1909. As with all historic areas administered by the National Park Service, the National Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. On December 19, 1980 it was enlarged and two New Mexico State Monuments were absorbed on November 2, 1981. It was renamed on October 28, 1988.
The Quarai Ruins are located near Manzano, New Mexico, about 8 miles north of Mountainair, at about 6650 feet (2026 m) above sea level. There is a visitor center and a 0.5 mile (0.8 km) trail through the ruins.
The Abó Ruins are located about 9 miles west of Mountainair, at about 6100 feet (1859 m) above sea level. There is a visitor contact station, a 0.25 mile (0.4 km) trail through the mission ruins, and a 0.5 mile (0.8 km) trail around the unexcavated pueblo ruins.
Gran Quivira Ruins
The Gran Quivira Ruins are located about 25 miles south of Mountainair, at about 6500 feet (1981 m) above sea level. There is a small visitor center near the parking lot. A 0.5 mile (0.8 km) trail leads through partially excavated pueblo ruins and the ruins of the uncompleted mission church.
|“||The Gran Quivira, as it
has been called for over a hundred years, is by far the best known
of the Salinas pueblos, and in fact is one of the most celebrated
ruins in all of the Southwest. This is not strange, as it is
altogether the largest ruin of any Christian temple that exists in
the United States; and connected with it from the first, there has
been the glamor of romance and the strange charm of mystery, which
adds tenfold to ordinary interest.
How and when it first received its deceptive title of “Gran Quivira” we may never know; there are dozens of traditions and theories and imaginings. From the days of Coronado the name of “Quivira” had been associated with the idea of a great unknown city, of wealth and splendor, situated somewhere on the Eastern Plains; and it is not at all unlikely that when some party from the Rio Grande Valley, in search of game or gold, crossed the mountains and the wilderness lying to the east, and was suddenly amazed by the apparition of a dead city, silent and tenantless, but bearing the evidences of large population, of vast resources, of architectural knowledge, mechanical skill, and wonderful energy, they should have associated with it the stories heard from childhood of the mythical center of riches and power, and called the new-found wonder the Gran Quivira.
Mountainair Visitor Center
The central visitor center is located in Mountainair and features exhibits of archaeological items from the various ruins.
- Spanish missions in New Mexico
- The National Parks: Index 2001–2003. Washington: U.S. Department of the Interior.