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“Near Espanola, Los Alamos and Santa Fe”

Puye Cliff Dwellings
Ranked #1 of 7 things to do in Espanola
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: The ancestral home of the Santa Clara people may be visited by guided tour to the ruin sites.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Bathroom facilities
Reviewed November 13, 2012

It's not as famous as Bandolier, but, it is interesting and very underdeveloped. It's basically run by the Santa Clara Pueblo as it's on their land. There has been some flooding in the area in the last several years, but this is still OK

Thank DrWJH3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 30, 2012

Like others, I was a little put off by the cost of the tour. The last time we stayed in Santa Fe we decided not to go to Puye because of the price ($35 pp for the 2 hour tour) and instead went to Bandelier ($5 or so a car). Bandelier is a self-guided tour. You can read some plaques and imagine how the Native people lived. Pretty interesting. Be prepared to climb and mind the traffic jam on the ladders.

This year we decided to pay the fee and just go. I am so glad that we did. Puye Cliffs is not run by the National Parks service. Puye is run by the Santa Clara pueblo. Our tour guide was very informative. I learned so very much about the Tewa people and how their lives were and still are to this day. Frank also taught us about misconceptions that come along with the way scholars not familiar with a culture interpret things. Very interesting. I would recommend this tour to anyone who wants to learn about the Tewa culture from someone who is Tewa themselves.

Other things to consider for the two hour tour: Be mindful of the elevation. Your tour guide will make frequent stops so you can catch your breath. Stay hydrated. Bring water with you. They sell water there, but it is a small fortune. You will be climbing up natural steps made by the native people, they can be narrow in some spots. You will come down from the cliffs by both these natural steps and a ladder. Watch your your tour guide and do what they say. If you follow their directions you will be safe.

2  Thank xatiayn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 26, 2012

The Puye Cliff Dwellings near Espanola were an enjoyable visit. The cliff dwellings can be seen from below but in order to get closer to them, you must take a tour. No unescorted visits to the cliffs are permitted.

We arrived early to avoid the heat (we were there in July). The tours begin at 9am. We got our tickets at the Harvey House (their website says to stop at the Valero gas station but the people there just sent us onto the Harvey House at the base of the cliffs). I totally recommend water, sunscreen and a hat if it is summer. You will be on the cliff about an hour per tour.

There are 3 tour options. You can take a Cliff Side Tour, a Mesa Top Tour or an Adventure Tour which includes both of these. We took the Adventure Tour because we wanted to see everything. Each tour lasted about an hour. We were offered the option of taking a van to the mesa top but we wanted to walk it. I loved being able to climb the rocks and ladders going up and down but if you are not comfortable with heights or are not used to New Mexico altitude you might prefer the van ride up. As a regular New Mexico hiker, I found the tour walk easy and fun. Other highlights for me included being able to enter the Kiva on the mesa top and the rock art on the cliff sides.

Each of the tours is guided by a local resident. Our native American guide was very informative offering information on the Santa Clara peoples history, culture as well as local plants and animals. They also have pottery shards along the path for you to see and touch.

Also offered at the Visitor's Center is a small area with exhibits that are nice and a short video about the site. There are a few gift items for sale and the day we were there a local craftsperson with handmade pottery. The visitor's center has restroom facilities.

Some people are unhappy with the price of the tickets but I thought it was well worth the price of admission for what you get. This site is only accessible by tour. Yes, you can go to Bandelier (and I totally love Bandelier) for much less cost but the fire damage in Bandelier has made it less accessible and many areas unfortunately less beautiful. We paid $35 for the Adventure Tour which includes both the Cliff Sides, two levels and the Mesa Top.

Their website is http://www.puyecliffs.com/tour-info.php

3  Thank Terri R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 7, 2012

We first signed up for just the cliff tour, but the rest of the tour group was going up to the mesa, too, so we went along (and paid more later). We enjoyed our guide, Judith, and our group of all ages were able to hike up the hill, climb the ladders, and navigate some interesting rock stairs/paths to/from the mesa. They do have other options if health does not allow such hiking. They do not let you go into any of the cavates. In many ways, Bandelier is better for access to cliff dwellings, but this tour is about culture and the history and the traditions of the Pueblo way of life that we felt we didn't get at Bandelier. We thought it was a bit overpriced, but would still recommend it if you are in the area.

1  Thank Ro11WithIt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 25, 2012

So glad we drove the extra mile (its out there!) and paid the price. Our native guide was full of information, patient with our unfit slow pace, and conveyed the respect this special place is due. The hike was not especially difficult and there were lots of stops along the way. We heard about plants, animals and the Puye people who lived here before moving down to the Plains where farming and life in general was easier. You cannot enter the cave dwellings but everything is within eyesight and explained. Lots of pottery chards could be picked up and examined but left there. Two tours are offered, ours took us to the first level, the other goes to the upper flat masa. Next time we'd go all the way. Not to be rushed, this tour will take a few hours.

Thank Deirdre049
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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