About Laguna, New Mexico
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 5,807 ft (1,770 m). Population: 1,241 (2010).
Time zone: Mountain (MST): UTC minus 7 hours. Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6).
The town of Laguna (pronounced "Lah-goon-ah") and Laguna Pueblo are in Cibola County, and form part of the Laguna Reservation. See a Map of Laguna.
View of the old St. Joseph Mission Church, Laguna Pueblo
The archaeological site of Sandia Cave indicates that this part of New Mexico has been inhabited for over ten thousand years. In more recent times, the Native American Pueblo people have lived in the valleys of the rivers that flow from the Rocky Mountains into the Rio Grande Basin such as the San Jose River. They used the water to irrigate their crops of maize, squash and beans.
The Lakes at Laguna
Paguate Lake is about 4 mi. NE of the Pueblo of Laguna mission square, but is a reservoir. The old lake that gave the name to the town was a wetland next to the town, to the west, which held geese, duck and other waterfowl. South of New Laguna is a temporary lake which forms when the San Jose River floods.
Rio San Jose River
The original name was "Arroyo del Rito" (Brook of the Spring), and also Rio Cubero (after the Spanish Governor, Cubero in the 1690s).
Later it adopted the name San Jose (St. Joseph), probably due to the image of that saint that the King of Spain gave to the Acoma Pueblo people in 1629. Interestingly, in those days nearby San Fidel was named San Jose.
The native name of the town is "Tó Láni" which means "Much Water". They name themselves as Ka'waika or Kawaik people.
The Keresan natives lived in Mesa Verde, in the southwest of Colorado, but a dry period (the Great Drought) forced them to migrate south around 1300 AD. They settled along the San Jose River and at Puagana on the south shore of Laguna Lake. They gradually occupied the area of Old Laguna. The Keresan people also occupied Acoma which very close, to the south of the river.
The first Europeans to visit this region were the Spanish of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado's expedition in 1540. They visited the nearby Acoma Pueblo. Later, when they finally annexed the area to their American Colonies in 1598, they subjected the Pueblo people by force and established missions to convert them to Catholicism. The Pueblo people expelled the Spaniards in 1680 (Pueblo Revolt), but they were reconquered in 1692.
The name: Laguna
"Laguna" is a Spanish word that means "Lagoon" and refers to the lake now mostly dry that was located beside the Pueblo.
After subduing the native uprising, Governor Cubero settled the refugees of the Kwaik people and some others from the pueblos of Cochiti, Zia, Cienaguilla and Santo Domingo. He built the new Pueblo in 1699 on the remains of an ancient Native village. He named it San Jose de a Laguna. (St. Joeph of the Lake), and this shortened to "Laguna". He chose a spot on the sandstone buff on the north side of the San Jose River. It is therefore one of the newest pueblos in the state.
The territory passed on to Mexico in 1821 when the former colony won its independence but, in 1848 it became a U.S. Territory when Mexico ceded it after its defeat in the Mexican - American War (1846-48).
In the 1880s the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad reached the area and extended its tracks from Albuquerque towards Gallup. And it built the Laguna station one mile north of the Indian Pueblo. The accessibility by rail brought tourists interested in the Native cultures of the Southwest.
In 1926, Route 66 was aligned along the "Old National Trails" which linked Gallup, Grants and Laguna with Los Lunas and Albuquerque. It remained on the alignment and even today the old US 66 can be driven throgh the town. Interstate 40 was built just to the south of the River and you can access the town from it at Exit 114.
Where to Stay
There is lodging along Route 66 in Laguna:
Lodging Near Laguna along Route 66
- 11 miles. Motels and Hotels in Acomita Pueblo.
- 31 miles. Motels and Hotels in Grants.
- 91 miles. Motels and Hotels in Gallup.
- 51 miles. Motels and Hotels in Albuquerque
- 87 miles. Motels and Hotels in Moriarty
- 163 miles. Motels and Hotels in Santa Rosa.
- 222 miles. Motels and Hotels in Tucumcari.
The Santa Fe Route 66 segment
>> There are RV campgrounds near Laguna (at Acomita)
Weather in Laguna Pueblo
Laguna has a sunny and dry climate. The winters are cold and summers hot. There are 278 sunny days and 53 days with precipitation per year. The average high temperature in summer (Jul) is 89°F (31.7°C), and the average summer low is around 56.3°F (13.5°C).
In winter (Jan) the average high is about 47.4°F (8.6°C); the average low is well below freezing: 17°F (-8.3°C).
Rainfall is 10.5 inches (292 mm) per year on average and most rain (6 in. - 152 mm) falls from July to the end of Oct. during the "Monsoon" period. Snowfall averages 18 inches and falls between November and March.
The tornado risk in Laguna is nil: Cibola County has no Tornado watches. The area west of this point has no tornado events at all.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Laguna
To the west is Grants, Gallup (91 mi.). To the east is Suwanee, a ghost town, Albuquerque (51 mi), and, along the Santa Fe loop of Route 66 are: Bernalillo, Algodones, Santo Domingo Pueblo and Santa Fe (110 mi.)
Map of Laguna and Route66
Map of Laguna and Route 66 in New Mexico.
Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment; Red line: I-40 & I-25 where they overlap the old alignment.
See Route 66's alignment in Texas
Remove or restore State shading
Route 66 itinerary through Laguna
Route 66 in New Mexico
Click to read the Full description of Route 66 across New Mexico.
Below is full information on Route 66's 1926 alignment through Laguna
The Santa Fe Loop (1926 - 1937)
Our Santa Fe Loop pages describes the complete 1926 to 1937 alignment of Route 66 from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque through Pecos, Santa Fe and Bernalillo.
Laguna, New Mexico: Attractions & Sights
Things to Do and See
Laguna: Historic Pueblo
Small Town on Route 66
Laguna Pueblo is a Native pueblo dating back to 1699. Stop to see the townsite and the historical church. Drive the original Route 66 alignment and "Dead Man's Curve". Visit nearby Cebolleta and Acoma Pueblo.
Route 66, Laguna Pueblo, NM.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
The adobe pueblo with its old church was built in 1699. A historic and traditional colonial Pueblo village.
The pueblo spans 108 acres (44 ha.) and has many adobe homes which are private (see Etiquette below). And its southeastern section was part of the original Pre-Columbian town from the 1400s.
View of Laguna Pueblo from the south.
Saint Joseph Church
San Jose Mission Church
1 Friar Rd., Laguna Pueblo, NM
See a photo of the Church above.
The whitewashed San Jose Mission Church was erected in 1701. It is the tallest building of the pueblo and is the center of the religious festivities of the village.
September 19th is the "Fiesta de San Jose", the "Feast of Saint Joseph", which includes dancing and stalls that sell arts and crafts in the square next to the church.
Open: 9:00 AM to 3:0 PM. Mon.- Fri. It is a place of worship.
Festivities in Pueblo de Laguna
Feast days are the best to visit the small villages around Laguna Pueblo:
- March 19: Laguna Village Feast
- September 8: the Encinal Village Feast
- September 19: the 2nd Laguna Village Feast and St. Joseph Feast at all villages
- September 25: the Paguate Village Feast
Route 66 Trivia
After the 1937 realignment of Route 66,the pueblos at Pecos, Santo Domingo, Sandia and Isleta were bypassed and Laguna remained the only Pueblo that could be driven past and was visible from the highway.
The People, the Reservation
The Laguna Pueblo is the largest of the Keresan-speaking Pueblo people; with around 8,000 members. The reservation consists of 500,000 acres of land spanning the counties of Sandoval, Valencia, Bernalillo and Cibola.
Visit the Casa Blanca Commercial Center with typical handicrafts of the Laguna people such as pottery with geometric designs in yellow, orange and red colors.
The annual feast of Saint Joseph which takes place on March 19th and again on Sep. 19th. includes not only celebrations and dancing but also sporting events.
For more information on the Laguna people, visit their website: www.lagunaPueblo.org
Important rules of etiquette during your visit to a Pueblo
Pueblos are on tribal lands and the local customs, religion and traditions must be respected.
- Check that access is allowed (leaders may restrict access for private ceremonies) and be prepared to pay an access fee.
- Photography. Taking photos may be totally prohibited or a permit may be required. Check with the Tribal Office. Even if you have a permit, always request permission before taking a photo of a tribal member. Leave your cell phone out of sight and silence it, as it could be confiscated.
- Don't litter. Don't carry or use alcohol or drugs.
- "Off Limits" signs must be respected. Don't remove artifacts or pottery shards.
- Don't speed. Respect traffic signs.
- Respect the local people. Dances are not a show, they are a ceremony. Show respect and remain silent at all ceremonies.
- Cemeteries, Kivas, ceremonial rooms are sacred places and entry is not allowed for non-Pueblo people.
Tours & Itineraries plus outdoor Fun
Nearby Route 66 Towns
Some short trips close to Laguna Pueblo:
The village of New Laguna is located 2.5 miles west of the Old Pueblo along Route 66.
San Esteban church, the mission at Acoma Pueblo, NM
A pueblo perched atop a 357 foot-high mesa (108 m), with a historic landmark adobe mission church.
Dead Man's Curve
2.6 mi. east of Laguna along Old Route 66, heading towards Mesita.
The original alignment of Route 66 followed the ancient native trail that went next to the winding course of San Jose River towards Laguna.
The narrow canyon of the river is closed in by red colored sandstone bluffs, and the road runs between the cliff and the river. There are great views of the red sandstone rocks on the sheer walls of the mesa.
At the northern tip of the mesa the river curves sharply around it, and so does the old Route 66. It takes a long curve around switching its south-to-north direction for an east-to-west one, and does so by following a circular curve as can be seen in the image above.
A much cheaper option than cutting through the sandstone. But, as the curve's name shows, a not very safe option for unwary drivers.
Dead Man's Curve between Laguna and Mesita
A Side Trip to Seboyeta
15 miles north. Map and Directions
Seboyeta was the first village founded west of the Rio Grande in 1800. The founding families marched west from Albuquerque to the "Cebolleta" land grant, named after the canyon on the southeastern slope of Mount Taylor (Sierra de San Mateo).
Visit the Church of Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows) built in 1829 and the cave and spring at Portales where there is a shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Church of Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores, Seboyeta, NM
The Old alignment of Route 66 near Laguna
Route 66 From Albuquerque to Suwanee and Mesita
From Suwanee through Mesita to Laguna
Head west from Suwanee all the way to Mesita along Route 66 and, after that village, all the way to Laguna along the original (since 1926) alignment of Route 66 as shown in the: Suwanee to Laguna Map.
National and State Parks
Pueblo of Laguna, NPS, Laguna, New Mexico
Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.
Original artwork by A. Whittall based on Google Street View Imagery.
Robert Julyan. 1996, The Place Names of New Mexico, UNM Press.