Just minutes north of Albuquerque (off of I-25, exit 242) in Bernalillo, is Coronado State Monument where Francisco Vásquez de Coronado—with 300 soldiers and 800 Indian allies from New Spain—entered the valley while looking for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. Instead he found villages inhabited by prosperous native people. Coronado's party camped near the Tiwa pueblo of Kuaua, one of the many villages encountered by the explorers.
Kuaua, a Tiwa word for "evergreen," was first settled around AD 1300 by American Indians who had long known about the fertile land near the Rio Grand.
Successful at agriculture elsewhere, many moved into the area, allying themselves with the local population. The resulting pueblo flourished and grew, as did the many neighboring villages along the life-giving Rio Grande.
Kuaua is an earthen pueblo excavated in the 1930s by WPA workers, who also reconstructed new ruin walls over the reburied original ruins. A square kiva, excavated in the south plaza of the community, contained many layers of mural paintings. These murals represent some of the finest examples of Pre-Columbian mural art in the Untied States. Both the kiva and one of the mural layers are reconstructed and open to visitors, while several of the preserved mural segments are open to viewing in the mural room of the visitor center. The visitor center, designed by noted architect John Gaw Meem, also contains prehistoric and historic Indian and Spanish colonial artifacts on exhibit with several hands-on components.
Visit website: http://www.nmmonuments.org