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
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.