ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Away from the big-city hustle and bustle lies a cultural paradise encased in colorful rock canyons and vast valleys to be explored. This is Acoma Pueblo, the home of Sky City, which offers endless entertainment and recreation options, but most importantly a history lesson in Southwest culture and the people of Acoma Pueblo.
“Visit and learn about Acoma Pueblo’s history, heritage and cultural-traditional values that have kept Acoma unique in today’s world,” said Acoma Pueblo Lt. Governor Lloyd D. Tortalita.
About an hour’s drive west of Albuquerque, along Interstate 40, is a soothing and visually interesting road trip that leads to Sky City Casino, off the exit 102. Amid a warm and friendly atmosphere, the casino offers some of the hottest and newest slot machines, latest Vegas-style table games, live bingo and live entertainment.
There’s no need to scamper off to hit the road back home because Sky City Casino Hotel offers cozy rooms with plenty of amenities. The AAA-affiliated Triple Diamond-rated hotel rooms and suites offer beautiful scenic views of Mount Taylor and the surrounding high-desert landscape. The distinctive Southwestern architecture of the venue is a view in itself. Venture to the outdoor courtyard, fitness room and the heated pool and hot tub.
“Sky City Hotel is your home base for exploring this beautiful western region of New Mexico,” said David Baumgartner, Sky City general manager.
Start with Acoma Pueblo, atop a sandstone bluff, hike historic Chaco Canyon and finish with a cruise down old Route 66.
For the more outdoorsy types, Sky City has an RV park where you can park your RV and catch a shuttle to and from the casino. RV check-in is from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. at the Sky City hotel front desk. Shuttle services are upon request so let the front desk know whether the service will be needed.
Off the Sky City Casino Hotel premises awaits a memorable day trip to the Sky City Cultural Center and Haak’u Museum. There you can take a tour of the beautiful and majestic Acoma Sky City. Acoma Pueblo is part of New Mexico’s cultural heritage and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in North America, according to a Sky City news release.
It also is the 28th historic site designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and has been voted the Top Best Native American Experience by USA Today, the release adds.
Take a tour of Sky City Cultural Center for varied admission prices depending on what type of tour you take. For group rates and other information, contact coordinator Melvin Juanico at 505-552-7869.
Year-round there are always public events happening on Acoma Pueblo, including the Officers’ Feast in early February, the Santa Maria Feast in McCarty on the first Sunday of May and the San Lorenzo Feast in Acomita on Aug. 10. In September, there is the San Esteban Feast-Harvest Dance on Sept. 2 and the Annual Tour de Acoma Bike Race on the third Sunday of September.
Coming up is the beautiful luminarias event on Dec. 24 where about 2,000 luminarias line the road leading to Acoma Pueblo. On Dec. 25 through 28 admire traditional dances inside San Esteban Del Rey Mission.
Acoma is well-known for its traditional pottery. Let the Haak’u Museum and Sky City Cultural Center educate you on the culture and tradition of Acoma pottery. Learn how the pottery was used for everyday functions from water to seed storage, to cooking and eating.
Understand the meaning of the patterns, designs and color as well as what the pottery symbolizes. And, learn about the innovation of modern and contemporary artwork, according the news release.
There is still more to venture to and explore in the surrounding Cibola County area. Head over to the Chaco Culture National History Park and walk through the valley of an ancestral Pueblo culture that was once a thriving society thousands of years ago.
Take a hike to Mount Taylor, which peaks at 11,301 feet in the Cibola National Forest. Take a look at the depths and beauty of the Bandera Volcano, which erupted 12,000 years ago or walk to the bottom of Ice Cave, a lava tube filled with permanent ice. Also in the general area is El Mapais National Conservation Area, where New Mexico’s largest natural arches, La Ventana arch, stands.