In 1540 Francisco Vasquez de Coronado [see my post: CITIES OF GOLD] visited the people of Acoma in search of the seven cities of gold.
The city of Acoma is on a rock formation 367 feet high and 7000 feet above sea level.
Coronado along with 300 Spaniards and 1,000 Mexican Indians, led an assault [like that of Masada] against the Acomans, eventually taking the mesa.
The citizens in 1629 were forced to build the largest adobe/mortar structure in the US; the San Esteban del Rey Mission after an incident with the locals and a friar. That confrontation resulted in the friar being thrown off a cliff.
The city remains inhabited today. You can only reach the mesa by guided tour [$12] but is WELL worth it. There is also a $10 per camera fee.
If you find yourself travelling along Interstate 40 YOU MUST STOP AND VISIT THIS AMAZING PLACE!!
The city is open to guests on Setember 2 to celebrate the autumn festival. As many as 18,000 people attend. This is a very cool event as tourists are invited into homes of the locals AND THEY FEED YOU!!!! WOO HOO!!!
By all accounts I have heard so far, Stonehenge is not as impressive or massive as you might expect from pictures. The 'Stonehenge of the Southwest' however is soooo friggin awesome. Before you get to the site, you drive about 30 minutes off the freeway in essentially flat land. As you make this one curve however you realize you are on a cliff that over looks the valley and these monoliths. From the distance they are very imposing.
Once you get past the Stonehenge of the Southwest you will find yourself at the Cultural Center. Here you can pay for the tour and camera permit which you must have BEFORE taking any pictures. You can also visit the museum or have some lunch [$7 for a roast beef wrap!!!]
Unfortunately you are not allowed to take pictures inside the church or of the cemetary.
Before the Spanish came, Acoman homes did not have a door. You could only enter from the roof, which is the way traditional 'kiva's' are designed.
...a true 'brownstone'
At the end of the tour you are asked if you want to take the shuttle or the 'rock trail' back to the visitor's center. A group of us chose the 'rock trail'. What we were not told was how steep it was. You are literally scaling the face of a cliff. This use to be the only way up to the mesa until a movie company built a road in exchange for filming a movie at the top. It starts out rather simple, some stone steps but then you make a turn and WOWOWOW you are greeted by quite a view -- and no hand rails, no rope, no nuttin'!!
A young woman in front of me huggin the walls said, "you can go ahead of me if you want" and I said, "believe me...I'M IN NO HURRY....you take your time!!"
There are grooves in the rock face to hold on to but that is it. Yikes!!! But it WAS coooooool.