NORTHWEST NM

Northwest Region New Mexico

Northwest Region New Mexico

Northwest New Mexico region is comprised of three Counties.

Cibola County – The City of Grants, and the Town of Milan

McKinley County – The City of Gallup

San Juan County – The Towns of Aztec, Bloomfield, and Farmington

The excitement of New Mexico true events continues all year long. Get the details on upcoming events throughout the state and join the adventure.

Welcome to Indian Country, a place that holds a wealth of Native American culture. Walk in the footsteps of the Anasazi, an ancient people who lived in Chaco Canyon, now a National Historic Park featuring dramatic rock formations. Explore America’s largest Indian reservation, the Navajo Nation, as well as the Zuni, Acoma, and Laguna pueblos, and the Jicarilla Apache Nation. Walk the streets of Gallup and discover the Native American arts. Witness the natural desert beauty of the Four Corners. Activity began here with Ancestral Pueblo civilizations flourishing at what are now Chaco Culture National Historical Park, the Aztec and Salmon ruins and a number of smaller sites throughout the region. These societies were extremely observant of their natural surroundings, especially the moon, the sun and the stars. At Chaco Canyon, in particular, you can witness the stone structures they created to mark the paths of these celestial bodies.

Archaeologists believe that drought ultimately forced these societies to leave in search of water. But today, some of the best trout flyfishing is found on the San Juan River, which along with the Animas, feeds Navajo Lake State Park near Farmington.

In the late 1800s, the Santa Fe Railway used the Indian culture to attract rail passengers to the West until the early 1970s when Amtrak took over. When Route 66, the first major multistate highway, was built motorists claimed the Northwest’s section its most memorable.

This region is now preserved for posterity, so come learn about its deep history. Nearly every major landmark in the Northwest has some type of Native American legend connected with it. There’s Mount Taylor, Ship Rock Peak, El Malpais and Cabezón Peak, as well as the Bisti Wilderness Area and the Chuska Mountains, to name a few.


Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byways – A remote place like Chaco may seem like a strange place to start your journey, but this byway isn’t tidy – it has roads sticking out all over the place. Chaco is as good a place to start as any.

Navajo Weavers (Toadlena, NM) – A visit to the Toadlena NM Trading Post, which is a weaving center and a Navajo Rug museum.

Ice Caves and Bandera Volcano – These geological wonders are on the edge of El Malpais National Monument. The volcano crater offers some stunning views, and the ice cave is a remarkable example of the mysteries nature can serve up.

Cibola County Points of Interest

Acoma Pueblo/Sky City

Acoma received the name “Sky City” by being perched atop a 70-acre sandstone mesa rising 367 feet above the valley floor. Acoma continues to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States.

Bandera Volcano

Another trail winds around the side of the Bandera Volcano to view one of the best examples of a volcanic eruption in the country.

Bluewater Lake State Park

El Malpais National Monument

El Malpais (pronounced ell-mal-pie-ees) means “the badlands” in Spanish. Its volcanic features include jagged spatter cones, a lava tube cave system extending at least 17 miles, and fragile ice caves.

El Morro National Monument and Inscription Rock

Also known as “Inscription Rock,” this massive sandstone bluff served as a welcome campsite for weary travelers. Here you’ll see centuries-old Indian petroglyphs, Anasazi ruins, and over 2,000 signatures, dates and messages of Spanish and American travelers dating back to the 1500s. Museum exhibits located in the visitor center will give you a glimpse of 700 years of human history. Two self-guided trails are also available.
From Grants, continue south on Highway 53 for 20 minutes to El Morro National Monument

Grants Chamber of Commerce

Chamber of Commerce 1-800-748-2142 • (505) 287-4802

Ice Cave

Situated on the Continental Divide, visitors walk over an ancient lava trail, through twisted, old juniper, fir and ponderosa pines to the Ice Cave.

Laguna Pueblo

New Mexico Mining Museum

Located in Grants, New Mexico, is the only Uranium Mining Museum in the world. Here the raw and often dangerous conditions of a mining hole have been re-created and domed with a graceful white stone and glass.

Northwest New Mexico Visitor Center (505) 876-2783

McKinley County Points of Interest

Chaco Culture National Historic Park

See where one thousand years ago, the inhabitants of Chaco Canyon built monumental public buildings, straight roads and ceremonial kivas. Pueblo Bonito, the most magnificent of the buildings, contained more than 600 rooms and towered four stories tall. For 300 years, Chaco was the center of this culture that united a vast area of the Southwest. The park is a designated World Heritage Site. Thirteen major Chacoan sites dominate the canyon floor and mesas. Park facilities include a visitor center, museum, short walking trails to the major sites and four backcountry-hiking trails.
Take Highway 371 northeast until you reach the Chaco Culture National Historical Park Entrance.

Cibola National Forest

Galup Visitor Information Center: 1-800-242-4282 • (505) 863-3841

Navajo Code Talkers Museum

Learn more about these famous codes at the Navajo Code Talkers Museum in downtown Gallup at the Gallup Chamber of Commerce.

Red Rock Park

Has an elevation of 7,000 feet and encompasses 640 acres. It offers a large campground equipped with electrical and water hookups, picnic areas, restrooms and showers.

Route 66

Route 66 and Coal Avenue are the principle sites of most gallery and trading post activity in Gallup. A stroll down Route 66 will give you a sense of the historic and harmonious blend of cultures for which Gallup is well known.

Zuni Pueblo (largest pueblo in New Mexico)

Zuni Pueblo is the largest inhabited pueblo in the United States. It was built upon the ruins of the ancient site of Halona, one of the fabled “Seven Cities of Gold.” Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission, located near the center of the pueblo, was originally constructed in 1629 and was rebuilt in 1968. Zuni is a vibrant pueblo, where some 10,000 industrious people continue to till the fields and herd their sheep and cattle. The pueblo’s many artisans work in their homes, creating the outstanding, world-renowned Zuni silver work inlaid with turquoise, shell and coral, as well as miniature stone carvings called “fetishes.” A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center has two hundred exceptional artifacts on “loan” from the National Museum of the American Indian. They provide a walk-through glimpse into the Zuni past while portraying the relationship between the tribe and the outside world.
Turn south on Highway 602 and enjoy a visit to the Zuni Pueblo.

San Juan County Points of Interest

Aztec Ruins National Monument

This amazing site is located only 14 miles east of Farmington. At this site, you will tour a 12th-century pueblo featuring the only fully restored Great Kiva in the Southwest. It is believed that the 450-room pueblo was first built in the early 1100s and used by people related to Chaco and then later modified and used by people more akin to the Mesa Verde region. The reconstructed Great Kiva now serves as the center for communitywide events and ceremonies.
Traveling east on Highway 64 to Bloomfield and go north on Highway 550. You’ll find the Aztec Ruins National Monument located just off Highway 516.

Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness

At Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness you’ll find a federally protected area where time and the natural elements have etched out a fantasy world of unique rock formations and fossils. The highly erosive soils often erase the footprints of others that came before and give visitors a sense of isolation. The landscape has often been described as a moonscape where your imagination and artistic talents can run wild.

DIRECTIONS: Drive south from Farmington on Highway 371 for 36 miles to the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park (part)

Four Corners

Navajo Nation Tribe including Shiprock

At Shiprock, you’ll see the Shiprock Pinnacle, a large shaft of rock jutting out from the desert. The Navajo call Shiprock, “Tse ‘Bit’a’I” or “the rock with wings.” The rock is sacred to the Navajo people and is also a landmark of the surrounding communities. At the Four Corners Monument, visitors can can stand in four states (Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico) at the same time.

Travel 30 minutes west of Farmington on Highway 64 and discover the Navajo Nation and Shiprock, New Mexico. Just south of Shiprock on Hwy 491, you’ll see the Shiprock Pinnacle.

Continue driving west for 30 miles and you’ll discover the Four Corners Monument.

Navajo Lake Start Park

Salmon Ruins and Heritage Park

The park is comprised of eight habitation units representing human occupation of the San Juan Valley for thousands of years. Tree-rings from the site date the Salmon Ruins between 1088 and 1095 A.D., a very short period in view of the size of the huge structure. By the mid 1100s, after approximately 60 years of occupation, the Salmon Ruins were abandoned by its Chacoan occupants.
Travel 10 miles east of Farmington on Highway 64 to Salmon Ruins and you’ll find Heritage Park.

San Juan River I

s recognized as one of the finest freshwater fisheries in the world. A four-mile section of San Juan River holds more than 80,000 trout averaging over 17”.

Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway

Ute Mountain Ute Tribe