Ancient architecture in the American Southwest.

By Travel & Leisure
February 21, 2012
NPS Photo / Russ Bodnar

Roughly a millennium ago, northwestern New Mexico was the center of a fascinating, now extinct Puebloan culture. The sprawling red ruins date between 850 and 1250 A.D. but have been well excavated and maintained. They welcome about 50,000 visitors each year—meaning, chances are, you won’t have to jostle for space on the short, self-guided trails (plus, four more challenging backcountry routes).

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Visit the remote and hard-to-reach Chaco Culture National Historical Park, a collection of amazingly well-excavated Anasazi ruins, including Pueblo Bonito, which once contained some 800 chambers and stood several stories high.

Aztec Ruins National Monument and Museum

A partially reconstructed circa-1100 pueblo.

Three Rivers Eatery & Brewery

Farmington’s convivial Three Rivers Eatery & Brewery prepares tender steaks, hickory-smoked ribs, and such finely crafted ales as Chaco Nut Brown and Orchard St. Raspberry Wheat.

Casa Blanca Inn

Set high on a promontory with fine views over the desert landscape, the eight-room inn offers romance at reasonable prices.