Trip to Zuni

Come along on our Trip to Zuni

Our trip to Zuni Pueblo starts in Salt Lake City,Utah where Indian Summer is located. Traveling south on I-15 we leave the freeway at Spanish Fork and journey up Spanish Fork Canyon on SR 6 through the mountains past the historic coal country around Price,Utah (120 miles). At Price we head southeast on SR 191 through the desert past the Bookcliffs to Green River(180 miles) which is on the Green River. After a short twenty two mile jaunt on I-70  and the last of our freeway (we only have seventy miles of freeway  the entire journey and the rest is two lane roads) we turn south at Crescent Junction back on SR 191 to canyon country and Moab (240 miles).

 Trip to Zuni - Photo of Dead Horse Point
On the road to Moab we  pass the turn off to Dead Horse Point State Park which is a short twenty two mile drive to this spectacular view of the Colorado River. It is well worth the drive. SR 313 is also the northern entrance to Canyonlands National Park.

Trip to Zuni - Image of Canyon Lands National Park
At Moab we cross the mighty Colorado River and enter redrock country. Moab is bordered on the north by Arches National Park, the west by Canyonlands National Park and to the east by the Manti La Sal National Forest. This photo was taken just upriver from Moab.

Trip to Zuni - Image of Rugged Canyon Walls
This redrock vista is just upriver from Moab and shows the rugged canyon walls carved out by the Colorado.

Trip to Zuni - Image of Nortwest Pueblo near Moab Utah
This photo was taken near sundown just northwest of Moab.

Trip to Zuni - Image of Hole in the Rock
When we leave Moab we continue south on SR 191 past "Hole in the Rock" and Wilson Arch which is right off the highway. Those two little specks at the bottom of the arch are our two daughters. Wilson Arch  has a span of 91 feet and height of 46 feet is located about 24 miles south of Moab.

Trip to Zuni - Image of Church Rock
As we travel further south we come to Church Rock which is also right off the highway. The La Sal Mountains are in the background.

Trip to Zuni - Image of Mesa Verde National Park
At Monticello, Utah (290 miles) we make a left and head east into Colorado on US-491 to Cortez, Colorado (348 miles). Ten miles east of Cortez is the entrance to Mesa  Verde National Park. The drive up onto the mesa is on a mountainous winding road but is worth the trip as Mesa Verde boasts some of the best preserved Anazasi ruins in the region.  Shown above is "Spruce Tree House" ruin.  Stop by the Far View Terrace restaurant for a killer Navajo Taco.

Trip to Zuni - Image of the Casino at Towaoc
At Cortez we travel south into Indian country. The casino at Towaoc is owned and operated by the Ute Mountain Indian Reservation's Southern Ute Tribe and is twenty miles south of Cortez. The sacred Ute Mountain is in the background. At the New Mexico state line we leave the Ute Mountain Reservation and enter Navajo land.

Trip to Zuni - Image of chimney rock
South of Towaoc is "chimney rock" which is right off the road. Chimney rock is what we named it so that may not be the legal moniker.

Trip to Zuni - Image of Shiprock
Next we come to Shiprock which is home to the Shiprock Navajo Fair held the first week of October with nightly Yeibichei dances. These dances are a healing ritual that mark the begining of winter.  Southwest of Shiprock  is the famous Shiprock mountain.  Shiprock is sacred  to the  Navajos and is called Tse'Bit'Ai (rock with wings). Spanish conquistadors who came into the area in the early 1500s saw the rock on the horizon and thought it looked like the sails of a ship.

Trip to Zuni - Image of modern day hogan on a typical Navajo ranch
We continue south on US 491 (the old US 666). Apparently the old 666 designation bothered travelers so much that the Feds changed the famed highway's name. Whether you call it 491 or 666 it is home to the Navajos who live along the way.  The photo above shows a modern day hogan on a typical Navajo ranch.

Trip to Zuni - Image of Traditional Hogan
Traditional hogans are located on most Navajo homesteads and have five sides. A hogan is where the Navajos worship and conduct sacred cermonies. Even if they live in a home or mobile home they must have a traditional hogan for ceremonies and to keep themselves "in balance." The door of the hogan always faces east to the rising sun.

Trip to Zuni - Image of typical Navajo homestead
A typical Navajo homestead with the family hogan just north of  the house. Note that the door of this modern day hogan faces east.

Trip to Zuni - Image of Res dog
No reservation is complete without the roaming "Res dog". We  see the same "res dogs" year after year on our trips to Zuni.

Trip to Zuni - Image of Naschitti school sign
One of the little reservation towns along the way is Naschitti. Try saying this several times real fast!

Trip to Zuni - Image of Tohatchi Trading Post
Here is a photo of the old Tohatchi Trading Post. Note the rainbow Yei mural below the name. The rainbow Yei is used for protection for all that is in the building.

Trip to Zuni - Image of Yah Ta Hey pawn shop
You know you are close to Gallup when you see Yah Ta Hey pawn shop. Yah Ta Hey is the traditional Navajo greeting which means hello.

Trip to Zuni - Image of Gallup Route 66 signs
We have now arrived in Gallup, New Mexico (508 miles). This is where the old US 666 met the historic Route 66. Get your kicks on Route 66!!

Trip to Zuni - Image of Gallup Tourist Alley
"Tourist Alley" is located in a 12-block downtown area bordered by Route 66 (north), Hill Avenue (south, Fourth Street (west) and First Street (east). The greatest concentration of interesting turn-of-the-century architecture, as well as most of the downtown trading posts and galleries are located here, especially along Route 66 and Coal Avenue, one block south.

Trip to Zuni - Image of El Rancho Hotel
Located on old Route 66 the El Rancho Hotel was built  in 1937  by the brother of the movie magnet, D.W. Griffith. Drawn by the many films made in the area, Ronald Reagan, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn and Kirk Douglas are among the many stars listed in the guest register.  From the 1930's to 1950's, the hotel became a temporary home for many Hollywood stars. The El Rancho Hotel has been designated a National Historic Site and retains the charm of the old west. Autographed photos of the movie stars who have visited and Navajo Rugs surround the two story rustic lobby. Also, the rooms are named for stars who have stayed there such as John Wayne and Jane Fonda. Enjoy a visit "little feller".

Trip to Zuni - Image of Gallup Cultural Center
Formerly the Gallup  Harvey House (El Navaho Hotel), the Gallup Cultural Center is located on old Route 66 adjacent to the railroad tracks. A project of the Southwest Indian Foundation, the Center consists of the Ceremonial Gallery, the Storyteller Museum, a Visitor Center and the Kiva Cinema.

Trip to Zuni - Image of Zuni-Land sign
 You are now entering "Zuni-Land"!

Trip to Zuni - Image of new Zuni cutoff road view
Finally we get back on the road to Zuni, NM 602. We are on the "new Zuni cutoff" which "cuts" the corner through the mountains. At the bottom of the hill we turn right (west) on NM 53 and arrive at Zuni Pueblo, 37 miles south of Gallup.

Please click here to learn how to "Respectfully visit the Zuni Pueblo"

Trip to Zuni - Image of Zuni Sacred Mountain
Just east of Zuni is the "Zuni Sacred Mountain." During the period of the pueblo revolt (1680-1692) all six villages of the Zuni valley sought refuge on the sacred mountain "Dowa Yallane." After making peace with the Spanish, the Zuni people came back down from "Dowa Yallane" and consolidated into a single pueblo at Halona Idiwan'a, which became known as Zuni.

Trip to Zuni - Image of Historical marker just outside of ZuniTrip to Zuni - Image of Downtown Zuni
Historical marker just outside of Zuni tells a little of the history of the Zunis. (Click on)

Trip to Zuni - Image of Zuni Main Street
Downtown Zuni is like any other southwestern desert town with it convenience stores, gas stations, trading posts and government offices. We always have "Zuni tacos" while at Zuni.  They make the best at "The Zuni Express" Cafe and Convenience Store...tables and chairs to sit at and relax and end your day! (545 miles from Salt Lake)

Trip to Zuni - Image of Zuni Visitor's Center
Be sure to stop in at the Zuni Visitor's Center for useful information (and picture permits) while visiting the Pueblo.

Trip to Zuni - Image of muddy Zuni street
After a downpour the high desert landscape turns to mud. Above we find several boys playing basketball after one such rainstorm on a little sidestreet just off the main drag, NM 53. Notice the contrast between the old pueblo buildings and the modern mobile homes.

Trip to Zuni - Image of he:bo-k'owe ovens
Here are twin hornos in use to bake delicious breads and pastries. Called "he:bo-k'owe" by the Zunis these traditional ovens have been used for cooking and baking across the Southwest, and around the globe, for centuries. However the Zunis bake it, there is nothing like a round loaf of freshly baked bread hot from a horno!

Trip to Zuni - Image of hornos
Newer hornos or older hornos ... they all make great bread!

Trip to Zuni - Image of res dog
All tribes have their "res dogs." Here we have a little Zuni shepherd eating God knows what in the mud!

Trip to Zuni - Image of an Abandoned adobe
Abandoned adobe at Zuni....remnants of days gone by......

Zuni Pueblo pretty stream
Crossing the bridge and pretty stream that runs through Zuni....

Trip to Zuni - Image of Spanish Mission on the Zuni Pueblo
The focal point of the Pueblo is the old Zuni mission. The mission was built in the early 1600's after Spanish missionaries arrived in the area. The mission is located in the heart of the old Pueblo and is surrounded by historic adobe pueblo homes.