For centuries, Indian traders cut through the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range at a ridge near what is now Pecos, New Mexico.
Here, the Ancestral Puebloan Indians exchanged pottery for copper and seashells. At Pecos National Historical Park, you can hike up to Arrowhead Ruin and explore this vast 105-room pueblo built seven centuries ago.
Three centuries later, Spanish explorers came through Pecos in their search for “cities of gold.” Franciscan friars followed in the footsteps of Cabeza de Vaca and Coronado, building four different churches over the course of the next century. The remains of the first “Lost Church” can still be seen at Pecos National Historical Park.
In 1861, Jefferson Davis ordered his army through Pecos in search of supplies, fresh troops, and more arms. At the Battle of Glorieta Pass, the Confederate troops outlasted the Union forces, but the loss of their supply train forced the Southern army back into Texas. You can take a guided tour of the battlefield known as the “Gettysburg of the West.”
Settlers along the Santa Fe Trail passed through Pecos on their way West. “Tex” Austin, the rodeo rider, stopped here and built the Forked Lightning Ranch, later purchased by an oilman and his wife, the actress Greer Garson. Tours of the ranch are also available.