The Vacation Atlas

New Mexico Tours- Acoma Pueblo & Sky City

Jun 3, 2024 | Uncategorized

I remember visiting Acoma when I was little but never made it to the actual Sky City. I grew up living next to, and learning about the Taos Pueblo, which I learned on this tour are actually descendents of Acoma, so being able to visit this site seemed like the natural next step in the history I grew up already immersed in. 

This was my second time attending a tour with Heritage Inspirations (the first was an Horno bread baking demonstration at Taos Pueblo). I’m not much of a tour person but like I mentioned in my 10 things to do in Taos post, I really like Heritage Inspirations because of how the owner, Angelisa, curates such immersive and intentional experiences. This time, I attended the cultural bundle which combines a day trip to Acoma Pueblo and Chaco Canyon in one weekend, with a stay at hotel chaco in between. 

Acoma is located about 60 miles west of Albuquerque and is one of the longest inhabited cities in North America. “Sky City” refers to the village that’s built atop a 367 foot bluff at 6440 feet in elevation giving it the illusion of a city in the clouds. Up until the 1800’s when a road was built, the pueblo was only accessible by foot through the one entrance of sandstone steps carved into the cliffside. 

The impenetrable nature of where this village was placed and the added security that comes with having only one entrance, gave its occupants an advantage over other pueblos in the region which is part of the reason why Sky City is one of the only continuously occupied villages in North America. Acoma was only subjected to one attack which left 800 puebloan people slain at the hands of Oñate in 1598. Later in 1629, the king of Spain ordered the San Esteban del Rey Mission Church to be built as a peace offering and an opportunity to push catholicism. To this day, the church is still the oldest surviving European church in New Mexico. 

The large church that towers above the modest adobe homes is where the tour starts, and I should note; there are no photos allowed within the church or the cemetery that resides outside in the church’s courtyard.  

Acoma pottery is also renowned for its intricacy of black and white designs as well as its delicate thin walls. There are multiple opportunities to purchase a handmade vessel from practicing potters along the tour. We got a live demonstration of this process after we hiked back to the visitors center through the original sandstone trail that was carved into the rock over 1,000 years prior. 

Our tour concluded at the restaurant over delicious Green Chile Stew and Fry Bread, which coincidentally our tour guide (who is also the cafe manager) was responsible for making… he wears many hats

Even though the tour is only about 6.5 hours long including lunch and drive time, it did a good job of covering a lot of information in an immersive and entertaining way. I also liked how interactive the whole experience was. Not only did we walk through the ancient Sky City, we also got to take part in a pottery demonstration, trek through the original sandstone pathway, and enjoy a traditional meal from the cafe– I’m not sure what more you could want included in a cultural experience. Lastly, seeing New Mexico through this new lens and connecting to my roots in a way I never have before was the greatest part of this experience and I will forever cherish it. 

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Written By Mia Stallard

Mia Stallard is an adventure blogger and content creator documenting unique stays and experiences. She's based wherever there’s wifi and a good view, but currently resides in the magical mountains of Northern New Mexico. Her hobbies include drinking overpriced lattes in swanky cafes, road trips through the desert, and skinny dipping in naturally occurring bodies of water across the globe.

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