Guadalupe Ruin in the Rio Puerco Valley

Guadalupe Ruin, Chaco outlier, Rio Puerco Valley, New Mexico
View of the Rio Puerco Valley from Guadalupe Ruin. Cabezon Peak at the far left.


Guadalupe Ruin is a Chacoan outlier next to the Rio Puerco. The ruin is open to the public (so I don’t have to hide its location). The self-guided tour includes a walk up the steep side of a skinny mesa but it’s way too short to call a hike; instead, set aside an hour to visit Guadalupe Ruin when you’re in the area. Once on top you'll see open rooms as well as two kivas that have been re-roofed to protect them. The trip is a good example of how far you can get from paved roads and other mixed blessings of modern civilization, when you’re exploring New Mexico.


The trip from the Big I in Albuquerque to the parking area is about 2 1/2 hours. A lot of the local countryside is shale, so don’t try this one after heavy rain or snow. No matter the weather, don't do this one except in a high-clearance vehicle and don't count on having cell phone coverage if you break down. 


Cabezon Peak, New Mexico
The road to Guadalupe Ruin. Be warned, the road gets worse. Cabezon Peak on the left.


To get to the ruin, head northwest on US 550 from San Ysidro. At 35 deg. 42.693 min. N, 106 deg. 56.303 min. W, turn left (west) onto CR 279. Reset your trip meter after the turn (the mile measures that follow are approximate, so also use your GPS). Once past the village of San Luis, the paved road makes a right turn; continue straight (southwest) through the cattle guard. As the obvious main road bends west, you will pass north of El Cabezón (and its namesake village, out of sight, next to the Rio Puerco).


At 35 deg. 37.936 min. N, 107 deg. 6.474 min. W (Mile 13) the road forks. Continue straight (right fork, to west).


At 35 deg. 37.575 min. N, 107 deg. 11.435 min. W (Mile 17.5), the road forks. Turn left (south). After dropping into a valley, cross the Arroyo Chico on a bridge at Mile 20.5.


At 35 deg. 34.896 min. N, 107 deg. 12.441 min. W (Mile 22), the road forks. Again, turn left (south). Continue south and east and pass through the ghost town of Guadalupe (Mile 26). The ghost town is on private land and no trespassing is allowed. The two-story adobe that is about to fall down reportedly had a modest saloon on the first floor and an equally modest bordello on the second floor.


At 35 deg. 30.998 min. N, 107 deg. 7.683 min. W (Mile 31.2), right after passing over a rise, pull off to the left to park. The second turnoff into the parking area is far better than the first one! (Note added November 2022: the parking area has deteriorated and many vehicles will no longer be able to use it.)


Once parked, take the trail up to Guadalupe Ruin.


Guadalupe Ruin, Chaco outlier, Rio Puerco Valley, New Mexico
Guadalupe Ruin is on top of this rise in the Rio Puerco Valley. The main part of the site is to the right.