GPO Summer Travel Series: Pecos National Historical Park

Mission Church and Convento

Thus far this summer we’ve experienced the aloha spirit of Hawaii, the falling waters of Yosemite, and even the golden badlands of Death Valley. You may be thinking there can’t possibly be any more to see. But our Nation is vast, with 58 national parks eagerly awaiting your adventure upon arrival. And our next park is full of rich culture and history. With a little imagination, you can still see this park’s original inhabitants weaving baskets from yucca plants and gathering around to tell the stories of their ancestors. Get ready to experience a big sky and open spaces at Pecos National Historical Park!

Before we head off for New Mexico, pick up the Pecos Junior Ranger Activity Book from the GPO Bookstore. This booklet lets kids explore the sites and history of Pecos National Historical Park, learn about the people, stories, and places of Pecos, and protect the park. They’ll start by interviewing a Park Ranger about their job. Before you know it, the kids in your crew will be living as the Pecos people once did – designing pottery, decoding messages in Morse Code, and creating a unique brand of cattle.

The booklet also serves as a guide for what to see and do at the park. The Ancestral Sites Trail will take us up through the Pecos Pueblo, which used to be a Native American community, and lead us to the Mission Church and Convento. Here, we will explore one of the reconstructed kivas, which were pit-houses used for religious ceremonies. You may notice that the structures are circular and have a hole in the middle. These holes represent the Pecos people’s connection to the underworld.

Using an ancient agricultural technique that originated in Mexico, the people of Pecos grew corn, beans, and squash and caught fish in the Pecos River. However, the Pecos people needed to trade with their neighboring tribes to prosper. In the booklet, readers will help the people from the Rio Grande Valley, and the Great Plains move their goods to the Pecos Pueblo to participate in the trade fair!

Did you know soldiers in the Civil War fought a Battle at Pecos? There’s still more to see! Next let’s hike the Battlefield Trail and explore the place where the Battle of Glorieta Pass, also known as the Gettysburg of the West, was fought. Though this pass is well-known for being a place of Civil War battle, humans have actually traveled on it for over 10,000 years!

Next, it’s off to Forked Lightning Ranch and Kozlowski’s Trading Post where travelers who made their way across the Santa Fe Trail stopped to purchase goods. Today the Trading Post is part of the Forked Lightning Ranch, the land along part of the Pecos River. According to the National Park Service, this land “has nourished and served the needs of the inhabitants and settlers of the region” for hundreds of years.

That’s all for Pecos. As always, thanks for coming along! We’re so glad we got to experience this park with you. What’s been your favorite park so far? Relive some of your old memories by searching “summer travel” on this blog. Rest up, and we will see you again soon for more travels!

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About the author: Blogger contributor Cat Goergen is the PR Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations office.

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