History buffs, archeologists and anthropologists types unite! The Puye Cliff Dwellings are alive with the mystery and history we’ve come to expect from New Mexico’s most brilliant monuments. Home to the ancestors of today’s Santa Clara Pueblo people, Puye Cliffs once supported a population of 1,500 “original ones” from the late 900s to the late 1500s A.D. Now a National Historic Landmark, Puye Cliffs features authentic cliff dwellings, early Pueblo architecture, an original 1800s Harvey House and a stunning panorama of northern New Mexico.
Puye Cliffs comprises two levels of dwellings cut into the cliff face, as well as housing relics on the mesa top. Over one mile long, the first level reflects an impressive community site and runs the length of the base of the mesa. The second level, no less impressive, is about 2,100 feet long. Representing early Pueblo architecture, cave dwellings on the mesa top were part of a single, multi-storied complex built around a large, central plaza. While the total number of rooms is unknown, the south part of the complex had 173 on the ground floor and multiple stories in various places, similar to modern-day Taos Pueblo. The largest of all settlements in the Pajarito Plateau, Puye Cliffs was excavated in the summer of 1907 by Edgar Hewitt in cooperation with the Southwest Society of the Archeological Institute of America and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1966.
Harvey Houses were built by the legendary Fred Harvey Company in the late 1800s to offer amenities for tourists traveling to the Southwest by railroad and, later, by passenger car. The Harvey House at Puye Cliffs was the only Harvey House built on an Indian pueblo. There’s also an interpretive center and gift shop.
Puye Cliffs offers special tours with various schedules that will enhance your understanding of this deeply spiritual attraction in northern New Mexico. Be sure to allow up to 2 ½ hours for your visit. Experience one of northern New Mexico’s most awe-inspiring cultural attractions and enjoy a drive along the Puye Cliffs Scenic Byway for sweeping views of the Santa Clara Native Americans’ historic areas as well as northern New Mexico’s landscapes and natural wonders —the spirit of a special place between the earth and sky.
The Puye Cliff Dwellings is located on Santa Clara Canyon Rd. on Hwy 30. There are excellent videos and tour schedules on their website.