Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Salt Missions Trail (East Mountain Ramble)

A perfect day trip from Albuquerque which is well worth an over-night stay.  This trip travels one of the first scenic byways designated by the state (along with 11 others) in 1994.  The route is passable even in winter and will lead you to a trio of centuries-old Pueblo ruins, whose stacked stones are lovely with a dusting of snow.
Beginning in Tijeras (20 miles east of Albuquerque) the Salt Missions Trail National Scenic Byway travels past the Manzano Mountains and Pueblo ruins to Mountainair.  Looping along NM 41 to Moriarty, the route then traces part of the Route 66 National Scenic Byway (along NM 333) back to the starting point.
South of Tijeras, in the Cibola National Forest, take your choice among picnicking, hiking, and camping destinations like Tunnel Canyon, Otero Canyon, Cedro Campground, and Pine Flat Picnic Area.
In Moriarty, you'll begin your cruise down Route 66.  Mother Road institution El Comedor de Anayas has been serving New Mexican favorites since 1953.
Albuquerque's East Mountain area, which includes the town of Edgewood, has farms that raise alpacas, llamas, camels, angora rabbits, and other fleecy creatures.  At Edgewood Yarn and Fabrics, you'll find a bounty of raw fiber and yarn for your own project, as well as a display of  locally crafted fiber arts- with a slate of classes, you might even find a knitting circle in progress.
The Salt Mission Trail draws its name from the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, which includes three sets of ruins:  those at Quarai, Abo, and Gran Quivira (26 miles south of Mountainair).  The Tiwa and Tompiro speaking Puebloan peoples thrived here prior to the arrival of the Spanish by trading precious salt left by an evaporated lake.  Franciscan missionaries arrived in the 17th century and left their mark here also.  Visit the ruins of three mission churches built from 1620 to 1659 and the pueblo of  Las Humanas (at Gran Quivira).

Taken from New Mexico magazine.

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