Since moving to New Mexico I have traipsed around the state, landing at such exotic locales as White Sands National Monument, Bandelier National Monument, El Malpais National Monument, Fort Union National Monument and the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument (a personal favorite). Yet it took me years to cotton on to a monument we keep stashed away in our backyard (technically, Bernalillo): Coronado State Monument.

It might not have the glitter and glam of its nationally recognized brethren, but Coronado has a lot to recommend it. Catch this monument on a brisk spring day when the wind is light but present. Look out to the Bosque and take your time in strolling among the ruins. This pueblo dates back to the 1300s. More recently, the handiwork of the WPA in the 1930s brought us the excavation and partial reconstruction of some walls.

I realize that my photo pickings of the monument are slim. You'll have to go get your own. While the outdoor setting is attractive, there is also a great treasure tucked behind the walls of the mural room at the John Gaw Meem-designed visitor's center. The murals came from an excavated kiva and offer a stunning example of Pre-Columbian art.

With gas prices jeering at us, I've been looking for adventures that are a little closer to home until I can afford a Prius. This monument is a good example that won't keep you out all day, either. So next time I mention that I'm heading off to Coronado, don't automatically assume it's the mall I'm going to.

Coronado State Monument
Bernalillo, NM.
On State Highway 550
44 1.7 miles west of I-25
Exit 242 to Kuaua Road'
Admission is $3, though it's free for NM residents on Sundays.

Views: 25

Comment by Laura on May 22, 2008 at 12:42pm
Thanks for the post. Beautiful, nearby, and free on Sundays...can't beat that. We've been building a list of places to go for our summer "staycations," so I'll add Coronado!
Comment by Joan Fenicle on May 22, 2008 at 1:03pm
One of my favorite view of the river and the mountains is from Coronado Monument. Attended the tour of the visitor center last Sunday in honor of John Gaw-Meem and the 75th anniversary of the New Deal. It's a special place - historically and just a place of beauty. Like to stand by the river the think how it looked hundreds of years ago.
Comment by Edith Grove on May 22, 2008 at 1:40pm
Also - children 16 and under are free and NM seniors get in free on Wednesdays.
Comment by Khan on May 22, 2008 at 1:49pm
Yes Yes Yes! We love this place, too. A wonderful bird-watching opportunity, a nice pueblo ruin, a small but good museum, close to the city, easy to find, nice place!

My partner and I go probably every year.

(Oh my, is that hail?)
Comment by Jackson on May 22, 2008 at 3:29pm
I used to work there! Part of the 1930s reconstruction was reconstructed by my fellow NMYCC workers and I during the summer of 2006. One of the best jobs I've ever had, I would love to work there again. It's always so peaceful, and the facilities were updated that same summer.
Comment by Sun Dog on May 22, 2008 at 4:15pm

I took a side trip up there in March. It is interesting that the actual pueblo ruins lie about 18 inches below ground. What you see there is the modern reconstruction...actually only remnants in some cases....even the modern ruins are melting away. The murals are unique -- maybe the only example we have of pre-historic kiva paintings.

Also, the monument at Jemez (1600s Spanish Mission) is a nice day trip and a beautiful drive.
Comment by Kelly Street on May 22, 2008 at 5:50pm
Nice post. My wife and I will be sure to check this out, as we've recently moved here from the eastern US.
Comment by Pat O. on May 22, 2008 at 9:01pm
Been there thrice. The ruins are worth seeing (especially the kiva) and the museum is worthwhile as well.
Afterward, go down and watch the river flow, look at the Jemez and Sandia mountains, and consider how beautiful the place was when it was a busy town.


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