Learn About the Park

brown sign with green mountain in background
Learn more about the park by taking a walk along our Ancestral Sites Trail. Trail guides are available at the visitor center and signs like this one are along the trail.

NPS Photo

A Southwestern Gateway

Between the towering Sangre de Cristo mountains and the flat-topped Glorieta mesa lies the Glorieta Pass, through which a continuously unfolding story of human culture has traveled to and from the Pecos Valley for thousands of years.

Cicuye, later Pecos, became known as one of the most powerful of the northern New Mexico pueblos. Why? Location, location, location. For one thing, it was at a higher elevation, 7,000 feet, where the growing season was shorter but the position more defensive. The Great Plains lay to the east of Glorieta Pass, while to the west there is the Rio Grande Valley and the Colorado Plateau, which in turn led to the Gulf of California, Old Mexico, and lands beyond. Whoever controlled the pass controlled the migration and trade routes of a vast region.

Pueblo and Plains Indians, Spanish conquerors and missionaries, Mexican and Anglo armies, Santa Fe Trail settlers and adventurers, tourists on the railroad, Route 66 and Interstate 25...the Pecos Valley has long been a backdrop that invites contemplation about where our civilization comes from and where it is going.

Visit the History Timeline for more information about the human history of the park.
Visit the Nature page fore more information about the natural history of the park.

Historical Park vs. National Monument

Often visitors wonder what makes Pecos National Historical Park a "historical park" rather than a "national monument," which is the way this site was classified from 1965 until 1990. The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorized the President to declare by public proclamation landmarks, structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest situated on lands owned or controlled by the government to be national monuments.

However, the "national historical park" designation generally applies to historic parks that extend beyond single properties or buildings and requires an act of Congress.

With the acquisition of the Forked Lightning Ranch and Glorieta battlefield units, Pecos National Monument became Pecos National Historical Park in 1990. As a historical park, one of the important things we do is historic preservation.

Last updated: April 27, 2020

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Pecos National Historical Park
P.O. Box 418

Pecos, NM 87552


505 757-7241

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