I saw a billboard along the highway advertising these ancient cliff dwellings. They aren’t that far away from my house, so I grabbed a friend and headed out for a Friday afternoon play-date.
We got there a little after 3pm and had to wait for the next tour at 4. We were recommended the Mesa Top Tour (get there early if you want to do the entire Puye Adventure Tour), so we paid and then headed up to the cliff dwellings on our own for a quick look. We noticed right away how soft the material was: tuff, a type of compressed volcanic ash, easily flaked off the cliff side habitat. The set-up was very similar to the Mesa Verde site in Colorado; apparently there is shared ancestry between these two cultures.
On the tour, we learned that the Puye Cliffs were home to 1,500 Pueblo Indians who lived, farmed and hunted game there from the 900s to 1580 A.D. The inhabitants then moved into the Rio Grande River valley, and became the ancestors of today’s Santa Clara people, who now live at Santa Clara Pueblo, 10 miles east of Puye Cliffs. Pretty amazing that they’ve been able to remain in the area for so long with their traditions and culture intact!
The driver and tour guide were both very nice and informative. I would definitely recommend visiting the Puye Cliff Dwellings.
MORE INFO: www.puyecliffs.com