When you pack your bags and suitcases to go on a trip, you travel in space. You move from one geographical point to another. When you visit a museum in your new destination, it can feel like traveling in time. If you enjoy these kinds of experiences, you love antiques, and you're a fan of archeology, you'll be glad to read this list of 10 ancient ruins you can visit in the USA and Mexico.
Tuzigoot National Monument, Arizona
Entrance fees: 10$ for adults aged 16 and older.
Opening hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Your entrance ticket also grants you entrance to the Montezuma Castle National Monument. Due to the pandemic, there are no ranger talks or guided tours at this time. However, you're likely to find a volunteer that can answer any questions you may have.
The short trail leading to the ruins is self-guided and accessible to wheelchairs, although there are occasional steep angles. Pets are welcome (on a leash). On-site you'll find the ruins of a 110 room village. The top oversees the Verde River.
Chaco Canyon, New Mexico
On-site you'll find an 8-mile one-way loop road. Along it are 10 major sites that were first inhabited in the middle of the 9th century AD. The Chacoan culture died rapidly in the late 13th century.
All trails are self-guided. All backcountry trails require a backcountry permit, which can be found at the entrance of each trailhead.
Cliff Palace, Colorado
Entrance to the reserve is with ranger-guided tours only. On-site you'll find a loop road that will lead you to the palace. It has 150 rooms, 23 kivas (a space for political meetings and Puebloan ceremonial rites). It is estimated that around 100 people inhabited the palace. Upon visiting, you'll notice that openings are relatively small. The reason why is that the locals were shorter than us: an average man was about 5'4" to 5'5" (163 cm) tall, and an average woman was 5' to 5'1" (152 cm).
Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Pennsylvania
Opening hours and entrance fees will be updated before the next season.
Meadowcroft Rockshelter is the oldest site of human habitation in North America. You can enroll in a 1-hour tour to see the archeological site with prehistoric remains hunters and gatherers. Alternatively, there are live experiences of 500-year-old rural life. Learn more in the video below:
Sand Island Petroglyph Panel, Utah
This panel contains etches that are 2,500 to 300 years old. The main character that repeats in these ancient drawings is the fertility god Kokopelli. The panel is located in the Sand Island Campground on the San Juan River. Once you enter the reserve, there's a few-hundred-yards walk to the fenced-in panel. It is located near a launching site for boats. Read more here.
Poverty Point, Louisiana
Entrance fees: $4 per person, free for seniors over 62 and children under 3.
Opening hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily.
Poverty Point is a 3,400 years old man-made earthen monument. The locals created nearly 2 million cubic yards of soil into various shapes surrounding a central mound. It was abandoned in around 1,100 BC.
On-site, you'll find guided tours, a museum, and a picnic area. You can also hike alone through a 2.6-mile hiking trail.
Entrance fees: 5$.
You can either tour by yourself or hire a local tour guide. Tulum was a major trading and religious center between the 11th and 16th centuries AD. It was first settled in the 6th century AD. Get specific recommendations in this video:
Entrance fees: 80 MXN ($4). Parking: 50 MXN ($2.50)
Opening hours: 8 am - 5 pm.
On-site you'll find a collection of pyramids. Amongst them, the tallest is 140 ft (42 meters). You'll climb 130 steps to its peak to enjoy the jungle view. We would recommend that you hire a bike at the entrance, as the site is vast. Cenotes are found nearby. These are underground sinkholes filled with freshwater found all over the Yucatan Peninsula. We strongly recommend you finish off your tour with a dip in a nearby cenote. There are 3 fun cenotes just 10 minutes away from the ruins of Coba. Read more about visiting the site here.
Ek' Balam, Mexico
The Ek' Balam site was discovered in the 1800s. It is a sacred site of the Mayan culture that contains 40 buildings. There are pyramids, palaces, and temples at Ek' Balam. Restoration work is still underway. Enjoy this helpful tour review:
Chichén Itza, Mexico
The Maya people established Chichén Itzá around 750 AD. It is the largest Mayan city. El Castillo, the most famous of the Chichén Itzá buildings – is a towering pyramid that also acted as a sun-calendar of the Mayan civilization. Enjoy this panoramic video of the area. Drag your mouse over the video to change the viewing angle: