The Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau has provided this itinerary for Indian Country Circle
This itinerary can be adjusted to take from four to eight days, depending on activities in each community. The itinerary can begin in either direction from Farmington: Albuquerque west to Gallup and Grants, or Albuquerque north to Santa Fe.
Day 1: Fly or drive into Albuquerque to visit historic Old Town and the city’s many
museums, attractions, shops and nearby Indian pueblos.
Day 2: Santa Fe, approximately an hour’s drive north of Albuquerque, offers unique
historic Plaza, art galleries and museums.
Day 3: An established artists’ colony, Taos is rich in art and culture and is home to the Taos Pueblo.
Day 4: Travel west along scenic Hwy. 64 to the quaint mountain town of Chama. While there, catch a ride on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad through the Carson National Forest.
Day 5: Continue west about 100 miles on Hwy. 64 to Farmington, the city the Navajo call Totah, “the meeting place of waters.” For an introduction to the area and to gather regional information, visit Gateway Park Museum & Visitors Center at 3041 E. Main. The museum gallery features exhibits celebrating Farmington’s history. The museum store carries exhibit related merchandise and books on local and Four Corners area interests and history. Walk through downtown and browse for American Indian arts and crafts at the many trading posts and view local artisans work at inviting galleries.
Take Hwy. 516 east 14 miles to Aztec and tour the Aztec Ruins National Monument, a prehistoric pueblo more than 800 years old, featuring the only fully reconstructed Great Kiva in North America. A visitor center and picnic facilities are available.
Travel 7 miles south on Hwy. 550 and 3 miles west on Hwy. 64 to Salmon Ruins. Salmon and Aztec were built by the Ancestral Puebloans in the architectural style of Chaco Canyon. (See Day 6 of this tour). Tree ring dates from roof beams indicate that most of Salmon Ruins was built between A.D. 1088 and 1094, a short time considering the huge dimensions of the structure. After 40 years of occupation in the mid-1100’s, the site was partially abandoned, then reoccupied in late 1100’s. Take a step back in time at Heritage Park, which comprises eight habitation units representing thousands of years of human occupation of the San Juan Valley. Sites include the Ice Age pond, an archaic sand dune hunting site, a Basketmaker pithouse, Ute and Jicarilla Apache wickiups and teepees.
Navajo forked-stick and cribbed-log hogans and the original Salmon family adobe
homestead can also be seen. Self-guided and guided tours of the grounds are available.
Salmon Ruins also directs guided tours of Chaco Canyon and the Dinetah area. For more information, call Journey into the Past Tours at (505) 632-2013.
Return to Farmington, 10 miles west on Hwy. 64 where you can enjoy a relaxing evening of Outdoor Summer Theater presented in a natural sandstone amphitheater,
(877) 599-3331, or check the calendar of events for other interesting events
Day 6: Travel 10 miles east on Hwy. 64 then 50 miles south on Hwy. 550 to turnoff for Chaco Culture National Historical Park between mile marker 113 and 112. Be prepared to drive 21 miles, including a 13 mile section of unpaved road after the turnoff at CR 7950. If traveling in a rental car, check with the rental agency prior to driving on unpaved roads as some companies prohibit it. Chaco Canyon was once the dwelling place of Ancestral Puebloans and has been designated a World Heritage Site.
Thirteen major excavated ruins dominate the canyon floor. The surrounding network of 400 miles of arrow-straight roads was the product of sophisticated
engineering that continues to impress even the most veteran archaeologists. Chaco Canyon discoveries have generated a new scientific discipline, archaeo-astronomy, and have earned Chaco the prestigious nickname “Stonehenge of the Southwest”.
Return to Hwy. 550 from Chaco Canyon and travel north to CR 7500 toward the
Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness. Proceed west on CR 7500 to Hwy. 371. Turn north and drive to CR 7297, then follow a gravel road for 2 miles to the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness parking lot. Explore the federally protected area full of strange geological formations, badlands and fossils. The area provides excellent hiking and photography opportunities. The best formations are located about 2 miles east of the parking lot. No services or facilities are available. Bring water, food and other necessities.
Travel to Farmington for dinner at a New Mexican-style restaurant or steakhouse.
Day 7: View Shiprock Pinnacle as you travel west on Hwy. 64 to Shiprock (30 miles). Take Hwy. 491 to Gallup for nightly Indian dances from late May to early September. The 91st annual Intertribal Indian Ceremony at Red Rock State Park is one of the country’s major American Indian events. A parade, pow wow, Indian dancers, all-Indian rodeo and marketplace highlight the activities. Other area attractions include Zuni Pueblo, El Morro National Park, Hubbell’s Trading Post, and Canyon de Chelly National Monument.
Travel east on I-40 to Grants to visit the New Mexico Museum of Mining, El Malpais National Monument, Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano, Acoma Pueblo-Sky City, La Ventana Arch, and Crownpoint. Return to Albuquerque via I-40 east or by rail via Amtrak