Travel back in time at the Quarai Ruins

Salinas Pueblo Mission Ruins at Quarai.

Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument: Quarai Ruins

The Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument in New Mexico consists of three sites: Quarai Ruins, Abo and Gran Quivira. Quarai and Abo are fairly close together and both are within easy driving distance of the town of Mountainair while the Gran Quivera site is farther south on HWY 55.   

Abandoned for 350 years

I’ve always felt a special affinity for the Quarai Ruins. It’s easy to see why people would’ve wanted to live in this area. The ruins are surrounded by lush grass, wild roses, and towering Cottonwood trees (that are probably as old as the ruins). Beyond that the landscape gives way to beautiful desert mountains that provided the stone for the architecture. There several are hiking trails that are not terribly long or difficult should one feel so inclined to go for a walk.

It’s important to note that this site was inhabited by native people for hundreds of years prior to arrival of the Spanish in 1598 and subsequent forced construction of this church. Needless to say, life here was probably better before Onate showed up and brought the inquisition with him.

All three Salinas Pueblo Missions were abandoned in the 1670’s and the surviving inhabitants assimilated into neighboring pueblos.

Salinas Pueblo Mission Ruins at Quarai.

The best photo I never shot

You really have to appreciate the scale of the Quarai ruins when you first enter it. The church is huge and I don’t think that photos do it justice. When Johnpaul and I walked through the entrance, I immediately felt eyes on me and looked up to see two beautiful owls perched about three quarters of the way up on the right hand side. They looked to be a mamma and her almost grown chick staring down at us with their saucer-sized peepers. And guess what I didn’t have? That’s right, I didn’t have my “real camera” or real telephoto lens needed to get this shot.

I was planning on shooting the location with my phone and never considered the possibility of encountering owls. The phone can only zoom so far but it’s not close enough and of course the resolution is crap due to the digital zoom. I call this The Best Photo I Never Shot. The owls watched us the entire time we were there but they never left their perch on the church wall. The entire trip was worth while just for this moment. 

Salinas Pueblo Mission Ruins at Quarai.
Owls at the Quarai Ruins.
Salinas Pueblo Mission Ruins at Quarai.
Salinas Pueblo Mission Ruins at Quarai.
Salinas Pueblo Mission Ruins at Quarai.
Salinas Pueblo Mission Ruins at Quarai.
Claret Cacti are so named for their red flowers.
Salinas Pueblo Mission Ruins at Quarai.

These photos were originally shot in July of 2019.

1 Comment

  1. […] Missions National Monument in southern New Mexico is comprised of three separate sites. They are Quarai, Abo ruins and Gran […]

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