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Wallace Gunn, who owned the Villa de Cuebero in New Laguna, said that people came to his motel, because he was in a place they wanted to be. The region between the Laguna and Acoma Indian Reservations is the most interesting place along Route 66. The road went through Laguna. Acoma was a side trip, but a necessary side trip.

Acoma, the sky city: I first came upon Acoma from the west as the sun was setting, and I understood Coronado’s Seven Cities of Gold. 

Acoma Pueblo, 1982

Acoma Pueblo, 1982

I came from the northwest along New Mexico 38, which runs between McCarty’s and Acoma Pueblo. The road comes to the edge of a bluff before dropping down into the valley. Acoma sits 367 feet up on a sandstone mesa above the valley. The setting sun that day turned it gold. I was, of course, stupid and did not make a photograph. Once in the valley the road takes you to the base of the mesa. It is the oldest continuously inhabited village in the United States, dating back to 1150 AD. The Pueblo numbers 4,800 tribal members, who live in 250 houses without water, sewers, or electricity. 

Acoma House at edge of the Mesa

Acoma House at edge of the Mesa

When I first drove to Acoma in 1982, it was possible to drive up to the village without a guide.  I did need a guide and to pay a fee in order to make photographs up on the mesa.


San Esteban del Rey Mission

San Esteban del Rey Mission, 1629

When I returned in 1998, I found times have changed at the Acoma Pueblo. 

Out on I-40 the Pueblo runs the Sky City Casino and Hotel.

The tribe had build a visitors’ center and museum. I could only get up to the mesa if I sign up for a tour. Today, it costs $20 for an adult and $10 for children. Seniors, military, and university students pay $15. It’s worth the cost. Members of the tribe guide the tours. The photographic fee is $10.

In 1995 the Pueblo initiated a hunting program on their 431,664-acre reservation, offering guided hunts for mountain lion and black bear. For information about the casino, the museum, and wildlife and hunting on the reservation go to #mce_temp_url# .

In 2007 the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Acoma Pueblo as a NTHP site, the 28th in the nation and the only Native American site so named. The Trust assists the Pueblo with financial and professional support. Acoma assists the Trust in expanding its mission beyond bricks and mortar to community development.