SIGHTS TO SEE ON HIGHWAY 53
El Malpais National Monument, Junction Cave
The monument was created to preserve the features of
the lava, termed El Malpais in Spanish, meaning the bad-lands. The
Spanish explorers of the early 18th century gave the name to the area
because of its inhospitality and ruggedness. The park is the home of
five major lava flows, ranging in age from the two thousand year-old
McCarty's Crater to the El Calderon, or cauldron, estimated at being 14
thousand years old. The monument, created in 1987, is situated south of
Interstate 40 and between NM Highways 53 on the west and 117 on the
east. Cibola County Road 42 is the southern boundary of the monument,
administered by the National Park Service. Deer, elk and turkey can be
seen sometimes at the fringes of the park and in the nearby Zuni
Mountains to the northwest. There are several sites along NM Highway 53
to visit and where you can take hikes. To the west of the monument
proper is the Chain of Craters. The more than two dozen old volcano
cones stretch for nearly twenty miles straddling the Continental Divide
and can be accessed by Cibola County Road 42. For more information
about the park stop by the Information Center at Mile Post 62 along NM
Highway 53, or call 783-4664. Website: http://www.nps.gov/elma/
Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano
For a real experience in contrast, visit the Ice Cave
Volcano, "The Land of Fire and Ice." Situated on the Continental Divide
you walk through the twisted, old-growth Juniper, Fir and Ponderosa
Pine trees, over the ancient lava trail to the Ice Cave. Here the
natural layers of ice glisten blue-green in the reflected rays of
sunlight. Another trail winds around the side of the Bandera Volcano to
view one of the best examples of a volcanic eruption in the country.
Located in the heart of El Malpais, the historic Ice Cave Trading Post
displays ancient artifacts as well as contemporary indian
artworks. Call 1-888-ICECAVE for more information.
El Morro Old School Gallery
The El Morro Old School Gallery is home to the
El Morro Area Arts Council.
The el morro area arts council is a vibrant, non-profit organization
which celebrates diversity, thrives on the sharing of creative ideas
through programs, exhibitions and workshops, and supports a
community-centered activity hub for traditional and contemporary arts.
Old School Gallery hours: Thursday - Sunday, 11-5. For more
information, or if you would like to join and support our efforts,
please contact EMAAC at 783-4710 or their web site: http://www.http://www.elmorroarts.org/
El Morro National Monument
passed this way. They are the Ancient Ones, the Spanish, the
Forty-niners and the graffiti artists of this century. And they all
passed El Morro National Monument. The sandstone bluff rising from the
floor of the El Morro Valley has been a landmark and haven for
centuries. The Ancient Ones, the Anasazi, built their apartment-like
homes atop the bluff and made their marks along the sandstone walls at
its base. The first inscription made by the Europeans was that by Don
Juan de Onate, the first governor of New Mexico under rule by Spain.
His inscription reads in part, "passed by here... the 16th of April of
1605." The Pilgrims didn't land at Plymouth Rock until 1620. The
Monument is open from 9 AM to 5 PM. Check at the Visitor Center for
special events. In the Visitor Center, there is a display chronicling
the people and cultures who came to find water. A fine book store is at
the Visitor Center. Works are of local interest and for all ages of
readers. The trails are well kept so comfortable walking shoes are
recommended. El Morro National Monument is one mile from El Morro
Cabins, Cafe, and RV Park. Call the Monument Headquarters for more
information, (505) 783-4226. Website: http://www.nps.gov/elmo/
Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary
Spirit Wolf Sanctuary is a non-profit organization providing safe
sanctuary to abused and abandoned captive-bred wolves and wolf dogs.
With focus on education, ecology and the environment, responsible
ownership of wolf dogs and the humane care of all animals, companion or
otherwise. Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary is focused on education, with the
hope that rescue organizations will no longer be needed. Wild Spirit
Wolf Sanctuary produces a newsletter, "The Candy Wolf", and is
dedicated to producing and collecting educational materials. An
extensive data base of supporters throughout the area is computerized
and this provides a network of people to help educate the public. A
great deal of effort is spent by the staff and representatives in
problem solving to help avoid animals being dumped or put in shelters.
Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary currently houses 75 wolves and wolf-dogs,
and is USDA licensed and inspected. Visitors and tour groups are
welcome, hours are: Thursday through Sunday, and give tours at 11 A.M.,
1 P.M. and 3 P.M. Tuesday and Wednesday by appointment only, closed
Mondays. You can find Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary by turning off of Hwy
53, south at BIA 125 and then west at BIA 120. For more information you
can write: Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, Star Route 2, Box 28 Ramah, NM
87321 Phone: (505) 775-3304. Website: Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary
Lake is man made, the Mormon pioneers laboring to build the dike in
1894 to provide additional irrigation for the little more than ten
inches of annual rainfall. During the latter part of the 19th century
the valley's fields provided the entire potato crop for the city of
Gallup. The dam failed twice, once in 1897 and again in 1905 because of
heavy runoff during the spring thaws. Today, Ramah Lake is a popular
fishing site in the area. Trout and catfish are plentiful. The lake is
a no-wake lake and is a picturesque spot for a short hike and picnic.
great history of the Ramah area can be found at the Ramah Museum,
located in one of the old homes of the village. The house is listed in
the National Historic Register. Hours at the museum are Fridays from
1-4 p.m. For more information about the museum call 783-4215. There is
fertile land and a little water in the Ramah Valley, enough of each for
people to settle on and grow crops. The Ramah Valley has been inhabited
for centuries, remnants of the earlier people evident by petroglyphs
and widely scattered ruins.
peaking sun burnishes the spires of Los Gigantes, the giants, the
sandstone spires imposing their presence above the traditional hogans
of local Navajo shepherds. In the distance at higher elevations in the
Zuni Mountains, long a traditional gathering place of medicinal and
ceremonial herbs for the Navajo and Zuni peoples, elk and turkey bask
in the early sunlight to warm themselves from the still freezing
nighttime temperatures. Los Gigantes can be viewed from NM Highway 53
on the way to Ramah.
The Pueblo Of Zuni
Village of Zuni, which sits atop the older place of Halona, lays claim
to be the oldest continually, inhabited settlement on the continent.
Continuity is its heritage. Many designs on modern pottery and other
arts and crafts can be traced back to the Anasazi, "The Ancient Ones,"
of the Southwest. The Anasazi Culture disappeared in the 13th century
from places like Chaco Canyon, a hundred or so miles to the north. Some
of those people are thought to have come to Zuni, to Acoma and to the
pueblos along the Rio Grande River in central New Mexico.
The Spanish, in search of the Seven Cities of Cibola,
sometimes known as the Seven Cities of Gold, came upon Zuni in 1539.
The word Cibola is thought to be a Spanish corruption of the Zuni word
for bison, the American buffalo. At the time of the Spanish incursion
the Zuni people lived in about half a dozen settlements scattered far
and wide, places like Hawikuh, Keehiba:wa and Halona, which is under
the present pueblo. As the Spanish searched the New World they brought
Christianity, erecting churches along their way.
There were several missions in the Zuni villages, two
unfinished because of raids from the Navajos and Apaches. The completed
mission, finished in 1629 and called Our Lady of Conception, was
destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. The people of Laguna,
Acoma, Hopi and those in the Pueblos along the Rio Grande River rose in
arms against the Spanish interlopers and drove them as far back as what
is now El Paso, Texas. The church at Zuni was burned, along with others
throughout the Southwest.
In the 1960s restoration began on the mission,
renamed as Our Lady of Guadalupe, as the Zuni Tribe, Bureau of Indian
Affairs and the National Park Service joined together to refurbish the
mud and straw brick house of worship. The bricks made of mud and straw
are used not only in the Southwest but in other arid lands as well.
Adobe, as the bricks are known, is used in places as far-flung as the
Mid East, Afghanistan and South America. It provides warmth in winter
months and offers coolness during the hot season, a versatile and cheap
Turquoise, also, is a worldwide commodity, used for
jewelry and ceremonial purposes. The Zuni artisans are masters at using
the many- hued stone in intricate jewelry pieces. They favor smaller
stones, used as inlay or many of them mounted side by side in a style
called either petit point or needlepoint.
Working with stone also involves the carving of
fetishes, small representations, usually of animals. A fetish is
believed to carry the power of the animal depicted. And all manner of
creatures are carved, from birds to bears. All of the shops in the
pueblo offer not only the arts and crafts but advice on collecting as
And some advice here about etiquette while visiting
the ancestral homelands. The village is home, act accordingly, as you
wish visitors would in yours. Common sense prevails, but do not be
afraid to ask if you are unsure. Courtesy and respect beget themselves.
For more information about visiting the Pueblo of Zuni, contact A:shiwi
A:wan Museum & Heritage Center: 782-4403.
SPECIAL THANKS to everyone who made this page possible.