From Gran Quivira, drive back the way you came and turn west on U.S. 60 in Mountainair to reach Abó (505/847-2400, free), nine miles on. The visitors center here has the same hours as the other sites (8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. daily in summer, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily in winter), but the ruins themselves are open all the time—it’s nice to drop by here just as the setting sun is enhancing the red glow of the rocks.
Abó was the first pueblo the Franciscans visited, in 1622; the mission here, constructed over more than 60 years, shows details such as old wood stairs leading to the choir loft. (The Franciscans were so dedicated to re-creating the Catholic church experience here in the desert that they brought in portable pipe organs and trained their converts to sing.)
Unlike Gran Quivira, though, Abó seems to have had some agreement regarding kivas, as there is one built right in the center of the convento (the compound adjoining the mission), dating from the same period—something that no archaeologist or historian has yet explained.
The excellent condition of all of these ruins is due in part to a family that owned the land from the mid-19th century on—one member, Federico Sisneros, is buried near the mission, at his request.
From Abó, you can continue west through the mountain pass and then down into the long, flat Rio Grande Valley on U.S. 60, which runs straight into I-25 at Bernardo; if you’re heading back to Albuquerque, you can take Highway 47 northwest to Belén, about 25 miles closer to the city.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition