The Salinas valley was occupied as early as the 10th century, first by Mogollon then Anasazi cultures, who established major trade centers that served both the Rio Grande villages and the Plains Indian tribes. Franciscan missionaries built mission complexes at each of the Salinas pueblos. The largest of the three pueblos was Gran Quivira (Las Humanas), which includes excavated ruins and a central plaza c. 1300 A.D., the remains of the church and convento (missionary quarters) of Misión de San Buenaventura, and the church of San Isidoro, both built in the 17th century. Quarai contains the best-preserved of the missions, Misión de la Purísima Concepción de Cuarac constructed c. 1629 to 1674. It served as the ecclesiastical headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition in New Mexico. The third pueblo, Abó, has extensive unexcavated pueblo ruins c. 1300 A.D., and red sandstone ruins of the mission and monastery of San Gregorio de Abó built in 1629-30. Severe drought, Apache raids and an epidemic forced the abandonment of the pueblos in the 1670s.
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is administered by the National Park Service. The Visitors Center is in Mountainair, New Mexico, one block west of the junction of US 60 and NM 55. Self-guided tours are available. Open daily from 9:00am to 7:00pm (Summer); 9:00am to 5:00pm (Winter). Please call 505-847-2585, or visit the park's website for further information.
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is the subject of an online-lesson plan produced by Teaching with Historic Places, a National Register program that offers classroom-ready lesson plans on properties listed in the National Register. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page. Other travel itineraries in the National Park Service's ongoing series include many historic destinations that you can visit online or in person. Each Discover Our Shared Heritage itinerary spotlights a different geographic region, community, or theme.