Highway 55 meets U.S. 60 in the village of Mountainair, which hosts the Salinas Pueblo Missions Visitors Center (505/847-2585, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily), on U.S. 60 west of the intersection—though it offers not much more information than what’s available at the small but detailed museums at each site. The Mountainair ranger station (505/847-2990, 8 a.m.–noon and 12:30–4:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri.) is also here.
Mountainair is home to the weird architectural treasure that is the Shaffer Hotel (103 Main St., 888/595-2888, www.shafferhotel.com), a 1923 pueblo deco confection with a folk-art twist, built by one Clem “Pop” Shaffer, who had a way with cast concrete—look for his name in the wall enclosing the little garden.
Redone in late 2005, the hotel rooms ($79 s, $89 d) have dull beige carpet but beautiful antiques, old oil paintings, and attractive pedestal sinks in the bathrooms, some of which are shared.
At last pass, there was no firm tenant in the hotel’s dining room—if there’s no café open, ask to look in at Shaffer’s masterpiece: an elaborately carved and painted wood ceiling that’s crawling with turtles, snakes, lizards, and other critters.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition