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Aztec Ruins & Angel Peak

Saturday – Monday, July 28-30, 2018

This weekend Diane and I were heading down to Albuquerque to attend a concert on Sunday evening, so we decided to split the drive up into two days and spend a night in Bloomfield, New Mexico. This way we could visit some nearby ruins and maybe catch a nice sunset without spending all day sitting in the car. We left home early on Saturday morning and took the scenic route over Lizard Head Pass and through Rico and Dolores, arriving in Aztec in the early afternoon. It had been a while since I visited Aztec Ruins National Monument on one of my trips to Chaco Canyon and Diane had never been there before, so we started out with an easy hike through this small Monument that’s located right in the middle of town. Aztec Ruins National Monument is situated near the Animas River and preserves an ancestral Puebloan Great House that was the social, economic, and political center of the region after Chaco. This Monument also contains a restored Great Kiva that is over 40 feet in diameter and is the oldest and largest reconstructed building of its kind.

The hiking tour started out by taking us through the interior of the restored Great Kiva.

Restored Great Kiva

Looking back the other direction.

Aztec Great Kiva

Visiting the rest of the ruins near the kiva.

In The Ruins

Another large kiva that hasn’t been restored.

Aztec Ruins

Walking through the dark doorways within the ruins.

Aztec Doorways

After finishing the walking tour through the ruins we returned to the air-conditioned museum and checked out all the artifacts on display there and watched a short video about the ruins that was playing. Then we continued on our drive to Bloomfield so we could visit the Salmon Ruins Museum. Neither of us had been there before.

Arriving at the Salmon Ruins.

Salmon Ruins Sign

Looking into a large kiva at the Salmon Ruins.

Salmon Kiva

Besides the ruins, there were also a number of old buildings from the Salmon Homestead.

Old Buildings

I liked the color of this door on the house.

Homestead Doorway

The front of the old Trading Post.

Trading Post

After visiting the Salmon Ruins, Museum and Heritage Park we grabbed a late lunch in Farmington and then checked into our hotel back in Bloomfield. We rested in our room for a little while since it was pretty hot outside and then headed out about an hour and a half before sunset to visit the Angel Peak Scenic Area. I’ve driven by the sign to this location a few times before but never stopped to check it out. There were some monsoonal storms moving into the area this evening, so I was hoping for a good sunset!

Our first view of the area over Kutz Canyon and the surrounding badlands.

Kutz Canyon Badlands

The sandstone formation in the upper left is known as Castle Rock.

Castle Rock

A distant view of Angel Peak from the Castle Rock Overlook.

Angel Peak Scenic Area

While we were stopped at the Castle Rock Overlook, Diane heard air coming out of the rear tire on the drivers side and we found a large chunk of metal sticking out of the tire. I quickly put the spare tire on so we could continue to the main overlook before sunset.

Flat Tire

Another nice view over Kutz Canyon. Smoke in the air from wildfires created the color just above the horizon and below the clouds.

Kutz Canyon View

The badlands below at sunset.

Badlands Sunset

Virga surrounding Angel Peak.

Angel Peak Virga

Monsoonal Moisture

Monsoonal Moisture

After the sun set, we stuck around for a while watching lightning strikes in the distance. It was a beautiful evening! This was the first bolt I caught on camera.

First Bolt

New Mexico Monsoon

New Mexico Monsoon

One last lightning bolt before we headed back to our hotel in town for the night.

Lightning Bolt

On Sunday morning we had to figure out what to do about the flat tire since we needed to be in Albuquerque for the concert in the evening. Diane had road hazard coverage on her tires from Walmart and since they were the only tire shop open on a Sunday in Farmington, we headed over there when they opened. Unfortunately, they would not repair the tire because they said the puncture was too close to the sidewall and they also did not have a tire in the size we needed in stock, so they could not help us today. I didn’t want to drive the rest of the way to Albuquerque on the small spare tire we had without a backup, and I also did not agree that the puncture was too close to the sidewall, so I stopped at AutoZone to get a plug kit and see if I could plug the hole. It took two plugs, but I was able to seal it without any leaks. I filled the tire back up with air, put it back on the car and drove to Albuquerque without any issues.

We hoped to get a new tire from Walmart on Monday morning before heading back home, but again, none in town had the size we needed in stock so we ended up buying a new one from Discount Tire to get us back home. It took us a while to get the new tire figured out on Monday morning, so we hit the road a little later than I would have liked, but we still had time to make a quick stop at the Pinkerton Hot Springs just outside Durango.

A quick visit to the Pinkerton Hot Springs on our way home since we always pass by without stopping.

Pinkerton Hot Springs

>> Aztec Ruins & Angel Peak Photo Gallery


  1. Bob Walters
    Bob Walters August 26, 2018

    I’m spending the night in Bloomfield in late September and wasn’t aware of some of the sights you’ve photographed here. I’ll check them out. Thanks for posting.

  2. Elaine Corman
    Elaine Corman April 29, 2021

    I wish I could travel with you. I love NM.

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