Junction with US 66—Acoma Pueblo; 13.7 m. NM 23.
Unmarked dirt road.
This route to Acoma Pueblo, the Sky City, crosses the tilled fields
of the Acoma Indians and a sandy plain sparsely covered with rabbit
brush and dotted here and there with juniper trees. NM 23 branches
south from its junction with US 66, 0 m. (see Tour 6) at a point
4.6 miles west of New Laguna and winds through the settlement of
CASA BLANCA (white house) at 0.7 m. The characteristic caprock
formations of the Acoma area appear along the mesa tops at 4 m.,
closing in the plain to a valley confine. NM 23 crosses the northern
boundary of Acoma Reservation at 10.3 m.
The ENCHANTED MESA (L) 10.6 m. called by the Acoma,
katzimo (Ind., enchanted), is a sandstone butte 430 feet high, golden
brown, outlined by precipitous walls and sharply turreted pinnacles,
with heaps of sharp detritus at its base (only experienced climbers should
attempt the ascent). The Acoma have a tradition that their ancestors
once lived on its top, but the path was closed by a storm. The people
tending their fields on the plain below were not able to regain their
homes, and those who were caught on the summit died of starvation.
On ACOMA ROCK, 13.7 m., which is of fairly level topped sand-
stone covering 70 acres and rising abruptly 357 feet from the wind-
swept plain is ACOMA PUEBLO (7,000 alt., 1,168 pop.). (Admis-
sion $1; permission to photograph must be obtained from the governor.
Usual fee: $1 for small cameras and $5 for movies.) This pre-Colum-
bian Kercsan-speaking pueblo is said to be the oldest continuously occu-
pied village in the United States. From a distance the pueblo appears
to be part of the natural cliff and not readily distinguishable as a
habitation. Approaching the high fortress-like city are well-defined
foot trails, which are still used, but some of the Indians prefer to
ascend by the ancient toe- and finger-hole trail. The only trail accepted
as existing before 1629 is the ladder trail on the northwestern side,
formed by a combination of ladder and toe- and finger-holes cut in the
solid rock and tortuous passages worn deep by years of age. This came
to be known as "Camino del Padre" after Father Ramirez made his
famous ascent. The Burro Trail, built under the direction of the same
priest, so that a more comfortable and less hazardous route might be
possible, has at its top a large wooden cross, which is still decorated
with flowers on "Cross Day" in May. The trail principally used by
visitors today is the one to the right of the Ladder Trail, leading over