Covering over 480 miles (an additional 110 miles off loop), the Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway is a mesmerizing mix of landscapes carved into shapes of every kind by wind and water. Pause and appreciate the long occupation by native communities, present over a time spectrum rarely intact elsewhere. Extending from Paleolithic society to ancestral Puebloans to nomadic Navajo, Apache and Ute tribes to the impact of European settlers, these native communities endure. Visitors find centuries-old traditions still honored, and new practices and art forms constantly evolving.

Aztec


This ancestral Puebloan community was active in the 12th and 13th centuries. This UNESCO World Heritage site offers 400+ rooms and North America's only reconstructed Great Kiva. The visitor center also houses an small but exceptional museum where visitors can view artifacts recovered from past excations of the ruins, learn about the architecture and native American groups that interact with the Aztec Ruins.
Aztec Ruins
Photo by EMKotyk

Bloomfield


Enjoy 11th century Puebloan ruins and a Chacoan great house, plus replicas of a sweatlodge, hogan, tipi and pithouse. View artifacts and browse the gift shop for Native American art. Traveler tip: Ask about the extraordinary, off-site "pueblito" and rock-art tours hidden within Largo Canyon.

Chaco Canyon


Formerly a major ceremonial and trade center, this UNESCO World Heritage site was active from 850-1250 A.D. Its world celebrity status is underscored in pre-planned architectural designs, astronomical alignments, geometry, landscaping and engineering.
Chaco Canyon
Photo by EMKotyk

Navajo Nation


Famous for its area weaver auctions of Navajo rugs. Auctions are usually held the second Friday of each month. Artisans also sell jewelry and pottery.

Grants


Formerly a railroad coal station, Grants boomed when uranium was discovered in 1950. Visitors enjoy mined gems and a re-created uranium mine at the New Mexico Mining Museum. Grants is a favorite stop along Route 66.

El Malpais' jagged, molten lava landscape of lava tubes, cinder cones, pressure ridges and caves formed more than a million years ago.
El Malpais
Photo by EMKotyk

One of the country's finest examples of volcanic eruption, visitors also enjoy an ice cave where temperatures never rise above 31 degrees F.
Ice Cave
Photo by EMKotyk

A vital waterhole at its base made El Morro a popular stop for ancestral Puebloans, Spanish explorers and early American travelers. Some 2,000 names, dates, messages and petroglyphs are etched into its sandstone bluff.
El Morro
Photo by EMKotyk

Zuni


The six original Zuni pueblos were the legendary "Cities of Gold" sought be Vasquez de Coronado. Settled in 1699, Zuni is the largest of New Mexico's 19 pueblos and is celebrated for producing silver jewelry, stone fetishes and pottery.

Gallup


Gallup was a westward railroad stop, then later a Route 66 pass-through. Trading companies and pawn shops line Gallup's main streets, offering a wealth of Native American art and crafts. The annual Inter-Tribal Ceremonial in mid-August is a premier event with parades, dances, marketplace, contest powwow, rodeo and Native foods.

Navajo Nation


Two Grey Hills Trading Post is an historic post on the Navajo Reservation. Constructed of original stone and adobe, it remains the primary source of authentic, "Two Grey Hills" style regional rugs, known around the world as the finest in Navajo weaving. Rugs are made of hand-spun yarn from the fleece of naturally colored, local churro sheep.

Toadlena supplies cash, services, and goods for approximately 1,500 Navajos that trade their hand-woven Native American rugs (available for purchase).

This prominent landmark rises 1,800 feet above the desert plain on the Navajo Nation. A remnant of volcanic activity millions of years ago, Shiprock plays a significant role in Navajo religion, mythology, and tradition. It is a point of interest for photographers and several film productions and novels, including the movie The Lone Ranger (2013). The rock formation is near the community of Shiprock, home to the Northern Navajo Fair, the oldest and most traditional of the Nation's fairs, held every October.
Shiprock
Photo by EMKotyk

Farmington


Farmington is surrounded by world-class cultural treasures, magnificent landscapes, and thrilling river sports. Local museums highlight everything from fish and game to developments in electrical history to children's activities. Farmington Museum and Visitors' Center at Gateway Park exhibits the city's history, oil and gas industry, a trading post reproduction and rotating art exhibitions.

A federal wilderness area, the Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a desolate area of eroded badlands that offer some of the most unusual scenery in the Four Corners region. Time and nature have etched a world of fantastic rock formations that have become a favored wilderness experience.
Bisti
Photo by EMKotyk