Acoma Sky City is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States. It is the “must-see” in the Grants / Cibola county area for those tourists that don’t have much time or will enjoy a cultural experience.
In the year 1540 Francisco Vasques de Coronado visited Acoma on his way in search of the elusive seven cities of gold and found he was the first white man to ever enter the Sky City. Popular thought considers the location of Sky City as an ideal site for defense against enemies. The verbal history of the Acoma recalls their high top home site as a destination of their forefathers to a desirable place to live out their ceremonial lives with harvests and thanksgiving. The Acoma occupation of Sky City has been at least 800 years rivaled only by a neighbor to the east, the Taos pueblo.
A new permanent museum exhibit and cultural center was opened this April (2006). There is parking at the cultural center. Then a commuter bus takes visitors to the mesa top and the heritage site for a guided tour by an Acoma person. The tour will take 1-1/2 to 2 hours and will transport travelers into the Acoma view of their world, life and history. The Acoma are famous for their pottery and there are often vendors there for the curious and collectors. They enjoy their privacy and have some restrictions but nothing surprising. Ask questions and your Acoma hosts will delight you with humor and grace. Call 800 747 0181 to confirm operation times or making group reservations.
May- St Maria Feast Day
August- Acoma Feast Day
September- Harvest Dance
December- Luminaria Tour
The Zuni were also visited by the intrepid Spanish explorer, Coronado. The Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission is all that remains of the Spanish mission occupation years. Our Lady of Guadalupe mission is located in the older middle village and can be visited with reservations at the heritage center. You will find 24 murals of Zuni kachinas, or messengers of their gods, painted on the interior walls of the church. This is one of their most sacred places of reverence and reflection. They have remained traditional by their tenacity and remoteness.
Travelers can get a look into life, past and present, as Zuni at the A:shiwi A:wan Museum & Heritage Center. It is easily accessed from Hwy 53 with limited visiting hours. The Zuni are incredible craftsmen and make beautiful inlay jewelry and furnishings. Many exquisite pieces are on display at the heritage center. Call (505) 782-4403.
Then join in the fun at the Ancient Way Festival during the first two weeks of October. It all happens along the traditional trail between Grants and Zuni pueblo, Ancient Way Scenic Route 53, beginning at Grants KOA. Enjoy music, local flavors in food, Zuni dancers and storytellers, and more. Relax in the cool evening air at the end of each day at the KOA in Grants, (505)287-4376).