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American Southwest

San Xavier del Bac, Tucson Columbus' voyages to the "New World" were just the beginning of the intermingling of peoples and cultures that formed our nation; this rich and varied history is reflected in the prehistoric and historic sites, buildings, structures, objects and districts found throughout the land.

The first explorers and settlers of the Southwest were American Indians; they gave the vast area much of its distinctive culture and learned how to live in its climate and geography. Some of the earliest and most expansive attempts at colonizing were made by the Spanish. Acoma, San Xavier del Bac, Fort Apache, Mesa Verde, Santa Fe, Hubbell Trading Post, Hovenweep, Kit Carson House, Taos, Barrio Libre, Fort Bowie, Tuzigoot, El Santuario de Chimayo; the names of the American Southwest evoke a starkly beautiful land of deserts, mountains and fertile valleys which is both very old and very new.

Arizona and New Mexico, admitted to the Union in 1912, are two of the youngest states in the nation; yet Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado contain venerable adobe communities and ancient, long-abandoned prehistoric ruins collectively representing thousands of years of human habitation.

The earliest documented occupation of the American Southwest dates to before 9,000 B.C. While hunting and gathering activities predominated in the Great Basin and California, and bison hunting dominated the Plains, the peoples of the American Southwest established early agricultural communities and grew maize, beans and squash.

They constantly experimented with a variety of irrigation techniques to overcome the hot dry climate. Changes in rainfall patterns led to their constructing complex communities which would eventually be abandoned when rainfall could not support the population. Spanish explorers of the American Southwest, beginning with Coronado's 1540-42 expedition, encountered both settled communities and deserted ruins.

The Spanish, in making the American Southwest an outpost of their far-flung empire, brought change as religious orders, soldiers and colonists built missions, presidios (forts) and towns with distinctive central plazas and churches; Santa Fe was founded c. 1610, Albuquerque in 1706, Las Trampas in 1751, and Taos between 1780 and 1800. After the Southwest was brought into the orbit of the expansionist American nation, the Anglo influence was imprinted on the land in forts, trading posts, mining centers of silver, gold, and copper, cattle ranches, railroads and dams.

The American Southwest with its distinctive building traditions, its languages, religions, and foods, reflects the vitality of the Spanish, Mexican, Indian and Anglo cultures which formed its history and the Southwest we see today. We will introduce you to prehistoric and historic sites, buildings, structures and districts associated with the long and colorful history of the American Southwest. The travel planner links National Parks with places listed in the National Register that illustrate early periods of Southwestern history.

Many of the sites in the American Southwest contain irreplaceable prehistoric and historic artifacts which are protected by Federal and state laws. In keeping with a responsibility to preserve these sites for future generations, visitors should be extremely careful not to disturb or remove any artifact found at these sites.

List of American Southwest Sites


1. Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Bowie
2. Coronado National Memorial, Hereford
3. Fort Huachuca, Sierra Vista
4. Tumacácori National Historical Park, Tumacácori
5. Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, Tubac
6. San Xavier del Bac, Tucson
7. El Presidio Historic District, Tucson
8. Barrio Libre, Tucson
9. La Casa Cordova, Tucson
10. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Coolidge
11. Fort Apache Historic District, Whiteriver
12. Kinishba Ruins, Whiteriver
13. Tonto National Monument, Roosevelt
14. Pueblo Grande Ruin, Phoenix
15. Old Governor's Mansion/Sharlot Hall Museum, Prescott
16. Montezuma Castle National Monument, Camp Verde
17. Tuzigoot National Monument, Camp Verde
18. Walnut Canyon National Monument, Flagstaff
19. Wupatki National Monument, Flagstaff
20. Petrified Forest National Park, Petrified Forest
21. Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, Ganado
22. Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Chinle
23. Navajo National Monument, Kayenta


24. Hovenweep National Monument, Cortez
25. Escalante Ruin, Dolores
26. Mesa Verde National Park, Mesa Verde


27. Aztec Ruins National Monument, Aztec
28. Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Nageezi
29. Zuñi Pueblo, Zuñi
30. Hawikuh, Zuñi
31. El Morro National Monument, Ramah
32. Acoma, Casa Blanca
33. San José de la Laguna Mission and Convento, near Albuquerque
34. Isleta Pueblo, Albuquerque
35. San Felipe de Neri Church, Albuquerque
36. Kuaua Ruin (Coronado State Monument), near Albuquerque
37. Zía Pueblo, near Bernalillo

Taos and Vicinity

38. Bandelier National Monument
39. San Ildefonso Pueblo
40. Santa Clara Pueblo
41. San Juan Pueblo
42. El Santuario de Chimayo
43. San José de Gracia de Las Trampas
44. San Francisco de Asís Mission Church
45. Taos Downtown Historic District
46. Kit Carson House
47. Taos Pueblo
48. Fort Union National Monument
49. Las Vegas Plaza
50. Pecos National Historical Park

Santa Fe

51. Santa Fe Historic District
52. Palace of the Governors
53. Santa Fe Plaza
54. Barrio De Analco Historic District
55. Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian
56. Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument
57. Fort Stanton
58. Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

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