About Pecos, New Mexico
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: Elevation: 6,923 ft (2,110 m), Population: 1,441 (2000).
Time zone: Mountain (MST): UTC minus 7 hours. Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6).
Pecos is town in San Miguel County which has grown recently due to commuters that live there and work in Santa Fe. The Pecos River runs along the northern and eastern sides of the town, from its sources in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the Santa Fe National Forest. See map with the location of the village.
This part of New Mexico has been inhabited for more than 10,000 years (the nearby site at Sandia Cave is proof of this). Later the Pueblo people settled in the valleys of the rivers that flowed south from the Rocky Mountains, to farm the fertile soil.
The area around Pecos was settled by Native American farmers in the year 700 AD and the ruins at the Pecos National Historic Park on Glorieta Creek survive to this day. The area was an important trade center between the Pueblo people and the Indians from the plains to the east. The Pecos River was the "Old Pecos Trail".
The expedition led by Spanish "Conquistador" Francisco Vasquez de Coronado reached Pecos in 1540, they were the first Europeans to visit the region. Coronado named the native people "Pueblo", after the Spanish word for "village".
In 1598, Juan de Oñate occupied the region as a Spanish Colony, and the Mission Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Porciúncula de los Pecos was established at the Pecos Pueblo in 1619.
The name: Pecos
The local natives spoke Towa language and their words "pa-kyoo-la", later deformed to "Pecos", meant "place where there is water".
The Spanish opression and exploitation of the natives led to the Pueblo Revolt (1680) and the expulsion of the Spaniards. They returned in 1693 and subdued the Pueblo Indians but adopted a softer stance with them.
The settlement in the area was slow and a formal land grant was approved in 1815, when the "Cañon de Pecos" was awarded to Juan de Dios Peña.
In 1821 it became part of the territory of an independent Republic of Mexico. The constant raids by the Apache and Comanche made the few residents leave the Pueblo at Pecos in 1838; they moved across the Rio Grande to Jemez Pueblo. Mexico ceded the territory to the U.S after its defeat during the Mexican - American War (1846 - 48). During the Civil War, the Confederate troops fought a battle with the Union forces near Pecos (1862).
The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway built its tracks along the Santa Fe Trail in the early 1880s and established a station 4.5 mi. west of Rowe, Which was named Decatur, then Fox, and finally Pecos.
A mine, the Terrero Mine, operated in the Canyon north of the town between 1882 and 1939. It was a source of income for the village.
In 1926, Route 66 was aligned through Pecos and several roads were built in the Pecos Canyon by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s. Dude ranches were established in the area: the Forked Lightning Ranch and Valley Ranch were two of them.
In 1937 US 66 was realigned further south, between Moriarty and Santa Rosa, bypassing all the towns along the Santa Fe Loop including Pecos.
Accommodation near Pecos
There are lodging options for those travelling along Route 66 in some nearby towns
Lodging Near Pecos along Route 66
Heading East ...
- 45 miles. Motels and Hotels in Las Vegas NM.
- 98 miles. Motels and Hotels in Santa Rosa.
- 156 miles. Motels and Hotels in Tucumcari.
- 25 miles. Motels and Hotels in Santa Fe.
West along the later Route 66 alignment
- 82 miles. Motels and Hotels in Albuquerque.
- 138 miles. Motels and Hotels in Acoma Pueblo.
- 155 miles. Motels and Hotels in Grants.
- 216 miles.Motels and Hotels in Gallup.
>> There are RV campgrounds near Pecos
Weather in Pecos
Pecos has hot summers and cold winters, the area is quite arid and dry.
The average high in summer (July) is 86°F (30°C) and the average low is 53°F (11.7°C). During winter (Jan) the average high is 48°C (8.9°C) and the average low is 21°F (-6.1°C), below freezing point.
Snowfall is around 25 inches (63.5 in.) on average and can fall at any time between November and April. Most falling during Dec. and Jan (6 in. each) Rainfall is 17.2 in. per year (437 mm). The rainiest months are June through Sept. with almost 10 inches of rain.
Pecos is located in an area with virtually no tornado risk: San Miguel county only has two (2) Tornado watches per year and mostly in the eastern fringe of the county.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Pecos
The village is located to the northwest of Santa Rosa along the 1926 to 1937 alignment of Route 66.
Map of Pecos and Route66
Map of Pecos and Route 66 in New Mexico.
Pale Blue: Historic 1926 Route 66 alignment; Red line:US 84 & I-25 where they overlap the old alignment.
Black: the rest of Route 66.
See Route 66's alignment in Texas
Remove or restore State shading
Route 66 itinerary through Pecos
Route 66 in New Mexico
Click to read the Full description of Route 66 across New Mexico.
The Santa Fe Loop (1926 - 1937)
Visit our Santa Fe Loop page for all the details on the 1926 to 1937 alignment of Route 66 from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque through Pecos, Santa Fe and Santo Domingo.
Below is full information on Route 66's 1926 alignment in Pecos.
Pecos, New Mexico: Attractions & Sights
Things to Do and See
Pecos, its Attractions
Pecos is a small town nestled between the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Pecos River on the "Santa Fe Trail" and the 1926 alignment of Route 66.
The town is aligned along NM highway 63 which has a north-south direction. Head north after the junction with NM-50 into the old part of town and see the church on the right side of the road. The building replaced the original adobe church built in the 1830s.
Cross the Bridge over the Pecos River, and after 0.5 mi, on the left is the Monastery:
Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey & Monastery
Just 1.5 mi. north of town (Map and Directions
The site of the monastery was initially a Dude Ranch, the "Valley Ranch". When business turned sour, it was sold and became a Trappist monastery in 1948. It changed hands again becoming a Benedctine monastery (until 1985). Today it is still an Olivetan Benedictine monastery, used for group and individual retreats and spiritual guidance.
Full details: pecosmonastery.org
The Historic Santa Fe Trail
The Spanish settlers at Santa Fe opened the "Santa Fe Trail" in 1792 to link their city with the French trading posts in Louisiana, on the Missouri River.
Much later, the wagon trains used it to move merchandise to and from New Mexico. It was also on of the main t rails used by the settlers to reach the Southwest and the coast of the Pacific Ocean.
The southern fork of the Trail passed through Las Vegas, Bernal, San Jose, Pecos and crossed Glorieta Pass to reach Santa Fe.
Tours & Itineraries
Nearby Route 66 Towns
Head south of Pecos along NM-63, it is only 2.2 mi. to the entrance to the Park. See this Map and directions.
Pecos National Historical Park
NM-63, Pecos, NM.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places & U.S. National Historic Landmark
The Park preserves the ruins of Pecos Pueblo (or Ciquique) and the remains of the Mission Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Porciúncula de los Pecos.
Created as the Pecos National Monument in 1965, it was later re-designated as the Pecos National Historical Park. Besides conserving the Pueblo and the Mission, the Park has two other units, one protecting the Glorieta Pass Battlefield, the site of an American Civil War battle; the other unit is the Forked Lightning Ranch.
Full details at the Official Park Website.
Pecos Pueblo - Ciquique Pueblo
National Historic Landmark
There is a self-guided trail (1.25 mi. long - 2 km) which you can take through the Pueblo and also, visit the mission.
The pueblo of Cicuique (which we now know as Pecos Pueblo) is located on a rock outcrop that faces the Pecos River.
The pueblo was inhabited for five centuries between 1,300 and 1838 AD, and was the easternmost of the Spanish Colonial Pueblos.
The Spanish reached Pecos Pueblo in 1540 when Hernando de Alvarado visited "Cicuique" (Ciquique). He reported that the town had four-storied buildings and a population of 2,000. They were farmers who grew corn, squash and beans. They maintained a relative truce with the Tewa natives of the Great Plains, and the fortified pueblo deterred any attacks.
The Spanish returned in 1591 under Gaspar Castaño de Sosa and confronted with a hostile reception, attacked the pueblo, subduing it. In 1599 the Governor Oñate renamed it as Santiago and assigned a missionary to convert the natives. This was the origin of the "Mission":
Mission Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Porciúncula de los Pecos
Ruins of Pecos and in the background the Pecos Mission Church. Public Domain.
A church was first established at the Pecos Pueblo in 1619, on a ridge abouth 1⁄4 of a mile to the northeast of the village. It was part of the Mission of our Lady of the Angels of Porciuncula (which is the name of a small chapel in the municipality of Assisi in Italy). A second building replaced it in 1625, next to the village but it was destroyed during the uprising of the Pueblo people in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt.
During the revolt, the natives built a traditional kiva (ceremonial room) in front of the church.
After the Spanish returned in force in 1693, they reasserted their power over the natives and erected a third church on top of the former building, in 1717.
The remains of the church display thick adobe walls and a fortress-like structure enclosing the atrium.
Forked Lightning Ranch
This ranch forms part of the Pecos National Historical Park and is the central section of the 13,000-acre ranch that belonged to movie star Greer Garson and her husband Buddy Fogelson.
The ranch has a long history: John "Tex" Van Austin bought land on the old Pecos Pueblo Grant in 1925 and created the "Forked Lightning Ranch". He included the old building of Kozlowski's Stage Stop and Tavern, which had served travellers along the Santa Fe Trail (1858-1880). He added a trading post and commissioned architect John Gaw Meem to design and build the main ranch house next to the Pecos River.
Route 66 brought tourists and Tex converted his property into a Dude Ranch.
A "Guest Ranch" or "Dude Ranch" is a ranch that caters to visitors and tourists, giving them a taste of the "Old Wild West" and the life on ranches.
But the Great Depression ruined the business and it closed in 1933, Tex went broke and sold the ranch to W.C. Currie in 1936. In 1941 it was acquired by E.E. Buddy Fogleson, a rich Texas oilm man who married actress Greer Garson in 1949. They expanded the ranch from its original 5,599 acres to its current size.
After Buddy's death, his wife sold it to The Conservation Fund in 1991, which in turn donated it to the National Park Service.
Forked Lightning Ranch
The pass and battlefield are only 5 mi. west of Pecos along NM-50: Map and directions.
Visit our page on Glorieta, for full details on the Glorieta Pass Battlefield.
The 1926 to 1937 alignment of Route 66 near Pecos
Route 66 from Pecos to Santa Fe
From Pecos, the old US 66 heads west as NM-50, towards Glorieta, it enters the town, but ends in a dead-end along Firestation Rd. (Map Pecos - Glorieta), so you will have to get back on I-25 to cross Glorieta Pass and reach Canoncito (Spanish for "Tiny Canyon"), where you should stop at the historical church:
Our Lady of Light - Nuestra Señora de Luz Church
The Nuestra Senora de Luz Church ("Our Lady of Light") and Cemetery was built in 1880. And is located 11.3 miles west of Pecos on the north frontage road, Canoncito 998 (Old Las Vegas Hwy.), see the Map and directions from Pecos.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
Historic Nuestra Señora de Luz Church, Santa Fe
At this point you can follow the old Las Vegas road after Exit 294, which is the 1930s alignment all the way into Santa Fe, as shown in the following map: Canoncito to Santa Fe map.
The Santa Fe Cut-Off
NM 6 which linked Santa Rosa with Albuquerque via Moriarty was finished in 1927 but only later was it paved. In 1937 it was incorporated into the new alignment of Route 66 that "cut-off" Santa Fe, shortening the road and providing a quicker paved route to Albuquerque and the Pacific Coast. This alignment also cut off Pecos.
Route 66 on the main post 1937 alignment
Route 66 east of Pecos
Old Route 66 west of Santa Fe
The map's is from the David Rumsey Collection. Metadata: Author and Publisher: Rand McNally and Company, Chicago. Date: 1927. Full Title: Rand McNally junior auto road map Arizona, New Mexico. Copyright by Rand McNally & Co., Chicago, Ill. (1927). List No: 5755.032 Page No: 66-67 Series No: 36.
National and State Parks
Villanueva State Park
Located to the south of Pecos, it includes sandstone mesas and the Pecos River canyon. There are places to picnic or camp and hiking trails. There is an RV park too.
More information at the Park's website.
Santa Fe National Forest - Pecos Wilderness Area
The Santa Fe National Forest was created in 1915 to protect almost 1.6 million acres of land (6.307 km2) in nothern New Mexico. It spans the Jemez mountains and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, with several districts (Cuba, La Española, Coyote, Jemez, Las Vegas and Pecos.
The Pecos District manages the Pecos wilderness area with 223,000 acres. Ideal for hiking, fishing and camping.
Guidebook of the Western United States: Part C - The Santa Fe Route, With a Side Trip to Grand Canyon of the Colorado, bulletin 613. Nelson Horatio Darton.
Robert Julyan. 1996, The Place Names of New Mexico, UNM Press.
Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.