Submitted by the Bragg Family of Arkansas
Last year, as part of our trip in New Mexico visiting family, we had an opportunity to visit the Salinas Missions in Mountainair, NM. This little gem, hidden off the highway, south of Albuquerque NM tells the story of an amazing culture.
The National Park Service Ranger Station gives details to travelers on each of the 3 different historical sites: Abo Ruins, Gran Quivira Ruins and Quarai Ruins- all part of the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. This was an all day adventure because each of the 3 sites are quite a ways away from each other and each site deserves time to learn and explore all there is to see.
Each of the 3 sites feature similar architectural designs with different stone and materials native to each area, along with different stories and details showing similarities and complex differences.
The Quarai Ruin is set almost as an oasis in the desert, which was my personal favorite. At the Quarai Ruin we noticed what looked like windows but instead were design features of the mission church. We asked Ranger Pineda about the “windows” and found out that a family of owls was nesting in one of them. The Ranger showed us a photo of a momma owl with her babies that another Park Ranger captured with his camera. In chatting about how my son, Daniel, loves to draw she mentioned her son was a young artist also and even created art featured on a brochure. She kindly printed off the photo of the owl family which Daniel drew using charcoal pencils after we got back from the trip. We are hoping to return to the park one of these days and share with Ranger Pineda the owl drawing from the picture she shared with us.
This was an amazing adventure with my father and my kids sharing great memories of exploration together while also learning about the past and nature.