Sky City

Indian Reservation in Acoma Pueblo

Journeying to the mesa-top village at Acoma Pueblo, famous as Sky City, is like venturing into another world. There can be few more dramatic locations – it’s set atop an isolated outcrop, 367ft above the surrounding plateau and 7000ft above sea level. People have lived here since the 11th century, making Acoma one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in North America.

In addition to its singular history and stunning setting, it's also justly famous for its pottery, sold by individual artists on the mesa. There is a distinction between 'traditional' pottery (made with clay dug on the reservation) and 'ceramic' pottery (made elsewhere with inferior clay and simply painted by the artist), so ask the vendor.

Visitors can only see the village on guided tours, which leave from the Sky City Cultural Center at the foot of the mesa. To avoid potential long waits here – or unexpected closures (it happens) – it’s best to call in advance to reserve a specific time. The highlight of the tour itself is the mission church of San Esteban del Rey, decorated with Pueblo motifs. All visitors ride a shuttle van to the top of the mesa, but you can choose to return to the visitor center by walking down a rock footpath on your own. It's definitely worth doing this.

The Cultural Center also holds the excellent Haak’u Museum of Pueblo history, a good shop and a decent cafe.