Modern Aztec is a bustling town between Farmington and Bloomfield, NM, and Durango, CO, nestled along the banks of the Animas River. Oil well services and cattle ranching are the primary businesses in the area.
Aztec was founded in 1890, across the Animas River from ancient Pueblo ruins. Today these ruins comprise the Aztec Ruins National Monument, preserving structures and artifacts of Ancestral Pueblo people from the 1100's and 1200's.
People associated with Chaco Canyon to the south built and used the structures, then people related to the Mesa Verde region to the north used the site in the 1200's. The monument was established in 1923, and designated a World Heritage Site in 1987. Contained within the Monument are large, apartment-style dwellings and a restored great kiva.
Also in town is the Aztec Pioneer Museum, a collection of well preserved buildings and implements left over from the most recent wave of settlers in the area. The Aztec Pioneer Museum is open in the summer from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Saturday, and in the winter from 10 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Saturday. Group tours are available by appointment. The Aztec Ruins are open in the summer from 8 AM to 6 PM, seven days a week, and in the winter from 8 AM to 5 PM, seven days a week.
Navajo Lake, about 30 minutes east of town, is at the top of the list of local recreational attractions. Also nearby is Mesa Verde National Park, Chaco Culture National Historical Park in Chaco Canyon, and the Salmon Ruins, another ancient Pueblo ruin just down the road from Aztec.
On Main Street in Aztec
In the Aztec Pioneer Museum
Also in the Aztec Pioneer Museum