Just north of Albuquerque is New Mexico's earliest state monument, the Coronado State Monument. Coronado takes its name from Spanish conquistador Francisco Vazquez de Coronado, who in 1540 set up camp in the area, while in search of the legendary Seven Gold Cities. Although he never found those seven cities, he did stumble upon numerous prosperous villages nestled up against the fertile banks of the Rio Grande. Coronado’s party settled near the large village and pueblo of Kuaua (a Tiwa word meaning "evergreen"), and prepared themselves for battle and invasion.
Coronado first arrived at Kuaua and its surrounding villages with 300 soldiers and 800 Indian allies from New Spain. With his army, Coronado fought, and successfully defeated twelve villages of Tiwa Indians. By 1541, he and his soldiers had decimated and abandoning all Tiwa pueblos along this portion of the Rio Grande.
First excavated in the 1930’s, of particular interest to many who visit are a series of pre-contact murals, which were recovered from a square kiva in Kuaua’s south plaza. Represented in these murals are some of the best-preserved Native American art found in North America. Coronado State Monument proudly presents fifteen of these amazing murals in its visitor center.
Along side the spectacular scenery of the Rio Grande, visitors will find an interpretive trail, which runs through some of Kuaua’s ruins; as well as a visitor center, which besides the previously mentioned murals, also contains many other displays of historical artifacts. The New Mexico State Monuments Division oversees the visitor center and trails that make up the Coronado State Monument.
$3. A combination ticket, good for admission to both Jémez and Coronado State Monuments is available for $5. Sunday admission for New Mexico residents with ID is free. Wednesday admission is free to New Mexico Seniors with ID. Children 16 and under are always admitted free.
Open 8:30am - 5pm Wednesday through Monday. Closed Tuesdays.