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Access to Acoma Pueblo

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Paraje is the eastern gateway to Acoma Pueblo from Route 66: an ancient Pueblo known as the Sky City which is built on the top of a mesa; has the historic San Esteban del Rey Mission Church and nearby, Mesa Encantada.

Paraje NM

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About Paraje, New Mexico

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 5,948 ft (1,813 m). Population: 777 (2010).
Time zone: Mountain (MST): UTC minus 7 hours. Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6).

Paraje is a village in Cibola County, on Route 66. Map of Paraje.

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 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.

In the 1880s the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad reached the area and extended its tracks from Albuquerque towards Gallup. They built a station at the small town of Paraje and named it Cubero although it was almost 8 miles from the village of Cubero. The site where Paraje was built had been in the past a pueblo of the San Felipe Indians who later migrated and moved to a place near Santo Domingo Pueblo, near Santa Fe.

The village was built within the land of the Laguna Pueblo. To the south is Casa Blanca, a small community that forms part of the village.

The Name: Paraje

The Spanish word "Paraje" means "Place", "Location". It is pronounced "Par-ah-eh"

In 1926, Route 66 was aligned along the "Old National Trails" which linked Gallup, Grants and Paraje with Los Lunas and Albuquerque. It remained on the alignment and even today the old US 66 can be driven throgh the town.

Where to Stay

There is lodging along Route 66 in Paraje:

> > Book your Hotels in:
Albuquerque, Acomita Pueblo or Grants

Lodging Near Paraje along Route 66

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The Santa Fe Route 66 segment

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Book your Hotel along Route 66

>> There are RV campgrounds near Paraje, at Acomita.

The weather in Paraje

Tornado risk

The tornado risk in Paraje 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.

Latest weather in Paraje, NM
Paraje, New Mexico its location map on Route 66
Location of Paraje on Route 66

The weather in Paraje is arid, sunny (278 sunny days per year) and dry. The arid climate causes cold winters and hot summers.

During winter (Jan) the average high is 47.4°F (8.6°C) and the average low is below freezing: 17°F (-8.3°C). The average high temperature in summer (Jul) is 89°F (31.7°C) and the average summer low is 56.3°F (13.5°C).

Rain falls during 53 days each year, adding up to 10.5 inches (292 mm). Most of it (6 in. - 152 mm) falls during the Summer Monsoon between July and October. Snowfall adds up to 18 inches each year and may fall between November and March.

Getting to Paraje

To the west is Grants, Gallup (85 mi.). To the east is Laguna, with its Pueblo, Albuquerque (57 mi), and, along the Santa Fe loop of Route 66 are: Bernalillo, Santo Domingo Pueblo and Santa Fe (116 mi.)

To the east, beyond Albuquerque are the towns of Tijeras and Santa Rosa.


Map of Route 66 through Paraje, New Mexico

See the alignment of US 66 in this location, on our New Mexico Route 66 Map, it has the complete alignment across the state with all the towns along it.

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Route 66's alignment in New Mexico: the Historic Route 66 through Paraje

Route 66 logo

Route 66 across New Mexico

Click to read the Full description of Route 66 across New Mexico.

The Santa Fe Loop (1926 - 1937)

Our Santa Fe Loop page describes the complete 1926 to 1937 alignment of Route 66 from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque through Pecos, Santa Fe and Bernalillo.

Below is full information on Route 66's 1926 alignment in this town.

Paraje: its Attractions

Landmarks, Route 66 sights

Tiny village

Small Town on Route 66

Paraje is a very small village in Laguna Reservation, on the original Route 66 alginment. It is the eastern gateway to the amazing Acoma Pueblo, San Esteban Church and Mesa Encantada.


October 17 is the Paraje Village Feast. On September 19, the village celebrates the Feast of St. Joseph (San Jose). The Seama Village Feast takes place on July 26. Seama is next to Paraje.

Tours & Itineraries plus outdoor Fun

Nearby Route 66 Towns

Drive east along Route 66 to visit Albuquerque, and nearby visit the villages of the Pueblo people. To the west: McCartys (13.3 mi.), San Fidel (11.5 mi.) and Cubero (8.1 mi.).

To the east: Laguna (5.5 mi.) and Mesita (11.7 miles).

To the south is Acoma Pueblo, 23 miles away.

View of Mount Taylor

Head west along old Route 66 towards Cubero and just 2 miles from the Paraje, towards the south is a view along the valley where, 10 mi. south as the crow flies, is the Pueblo of Acoma and the Mesa Encantada.

And, just ahead, 2.5 mi. west of Paraje, just after the curve of NM-124 south of Cubero, at I-40s Exit 104, look straight ahead, towards the north, there is a great view of Mount Taylor.

Mount Taylor was named after President Zachary Taylor, and is an extinct volcano towering upon a plateau of lava and sandstone in the Sierra San Mateo. It formed millions of years ago and its elevation is 11,301 ft (3.445 m) and is one of the Navajo sacred mountains.

It is within the Cibola National Forest Mount Taylor District.

Day Trip to Acoma Pueblo

Sky City

Oldest settlement in the USA

Settled in the twelfth century, Acoma Pueblo is believed to be the oldest continuously occupied settlement in the United States.

From Paraje it is 14 mi. to Acoma Pueblo along NM-23, south of the San Jose River. See this Map with directions from Paraje to Acoma Pueblo.

Acoma, pronounced "Akk-uh-muh" (derived from their name "Haaku", which means "people of the white rock"), is one of the most remakable pueblos in New Mexico. It is built on the top of an isolated mesa named Acucuo, a flat-topped hill with sheer walls, 357 ft. high (109 m) that protected it from its enemies.

The dominated the surrounding areas and were visited by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado's expedition in 1540. They were subdued by the Spanish after a three-day battle in 1599 when Oñate conquered New Mexico for the Spanish Crown.

Aerial View of Acoma Pueblo

Aerial view of the Sky City Acoma Pueblo, Route 66, New Mexico
Sky city, Acoma Pueblo, seen from the sky, an aerial view, Marshall Henrie

Its location and the view you have from the hill gave it its name: "Sky City" (This Map shows its location).

The Acoma people are expert makers of pottery with thin walls. You can buy some at the Visitors Center at the base of the mesa (it also has a museum). More information at their website:

The town's main festivities are: Feb., 1st. or 2nd weekend: Governor's Feast. Sept. 2, San Esteban Feast, Patron Saint. June: San Pedro, San Juan and Santa Ana in July (Corn Dance). There is a Crafts Fair during Thanksgiving and a Luminaria Tour (Dec. 24 - 28).

View of the buildings atop the mesa at Acoma Pueblo

Buildings at Acoma Pueblo, Route 66, New Mexico
Buildings atop the mesa at Acoma Pueblo, Scott Catron

Very Important

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.

San Esteban Del Rey Mission Church

Pueblo, Acoma Pueblo, NM.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, US National Historic Landmark

The adobe church was built in 1629 a Spanish Colonial Mission church.

The church was built on the mesa inside Acoma Pueblo by the Spanish in 1629. It was the San Esteban Rey Mission church. Named after the Saint King of Hungary, Stephen I. The original adobe building still stands, despite the Pueblo Revolt (1680), and the small ancient cemetery is next to it.

St. Stephen, San Esteban Rey mission church at Acoma Pueblo

San Esteban church, the Mission at Acoma Pueblo, Route 66, New Mexico
San Esteban church, the mission at Acoma Pueblo, NM, Karla Kaulfuss

Mesa Encantada

Mesa Encantada near Acoma Pueblo, NM

Mesa Encantada, near Acoma Pueblo, NM. Click image for Street View

Just before reaching Acoma Pueblo, on the left side of the road is the "Enchanted Mesa", which according to the Acoma myths was their original village named Katzimo.

It is 350 ft. high (107 m) and is made of Zuni formation sandstone.

The Old alignment of Route 66 near Paraje

route 66 shield New Mexico

Route 66 From Albuquerque to Suwanee and Mesita

1926 Alignment through Paraje

Route 66 actually curved into the town on its original 1926 alignment and ran along what is now Acorn Rd.

This Map shows that 1926 alignment through Paraje.

> > See the previous segment Mesita to Laguna

> > See this complete segment Laguna to McCartys.

National and State Parks

See the Parks in Albuquerque and closer, El Malpais National Monument and Cibola National Forest Mount Taylor District.


Banner image: The Dead Man's Curve, Laguna, NM by Perla S. Eichenblat.

J. J. Bowden, Pueblo of Acoma

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.