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Pot Creek Cultural Site - Carson National Forest

Archaeological Site
Pot Creek reconstruction – Nina Silfverberg

ADA Accessibility Notes

Meets accessibility requirements. One-mile path is paved and level. No accessibility restrictions.

Pot Creek Pueblo is the largest prehistoric adobe pueblo north of Santa Fe. About 700 years ago, Pot Creek Pueblo was home to nearly a thousand ancestral Puebloan peoples.The site consists of numerous mounds surrounding at least one large plaza area with a great kiva. Each mound holds a roomblock. Each roomblock area surrounds a small plaza and each of these small plazas holds a small kiva - a circular subterranean strucutre used for religious and social gatherings. Presumably, the great kiva was the primary ritual structure for the community as a whole.

Southern Methodist University (SMU) archaeologists believe that:

"At the height of its occupation (AD 1260-1320), Pot Creek Pueblo would have looked somewhat like Taos Pueblo does today, with multiple-storied roomblocks and an estimated 400 ground-floor rooms. The adobe walls of the Pot Creek buildings were constructed in massive courses rather than with adobe bricks. Roofs of the adobe surface rooms were held up by central support beams set into central basins. Lower story rooms were used for storage; upper story rooms were utilized for habitation. The prehistoric inhabitants of the settlement gathered wild plants and hunted local animals to supplement their agricultural livelihood, predominantly corn, beans and squash. Bison bones found at the site suggest that Pot Creek inhabitants traveled to the margins of the Great Plains--nearly 100 km to the east--to hunt, or that they were engaged in trade with groups living on the Plains. Crafts produced at Pot Creek Pueblo include gray cooking and black-on-white decorated pottery vessels, chipped stone and ground stone tools, and bone tools. A few ornaments of turquoise and shell have been found, indicating trade with groups to the south and southwest. Refuse was thrown into areas between the major occupation mounds, located to the north of current excavations."

Pot Creek Pueblo was abandoned around AD 1320 and it is believed that the inhabitants of the site moved to settlements contiguous to the modern settlements at Taos Pueblo and Picuris Pueblo.

The majority of Pot Creek Pueblo lies on private land owned by SMU and it is not open to visitors. However, the adjacent Pot Creek Cultural Site is on public land managed by the Carson National Forest and is open from June to September. There is a one-mile paved, universal path with information signs and a small reconstruction. There are also covered picnic tables, trash cans and restrooms.

While the gates are typically closed, visitors can park at the gates on Highway 518 and walk less than 50 yeards to the Pot Creek Cultural Site.

Questions about the Cultural Site should be directed to the Carson National Forest, 505-587-2255.

Information on the on-going excavation of Pot Creek Pueblo, artifact recovery and analysis, or information about the SMU Archaeological Field School can be obtained by sending an inquiry to:

PO Box 750145
Dallas, TX 75275-0145

Pet Friendly Notes

Pets must remain on a leash at all times.


24 hours a day

Seasons Open

Spring, Summer, Fall



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