Visitors must arrive at the visitor center by 4:30pm to join the rangers and volunteers, who will be escorting visitors to the alignment location. Please wear sturdy walking shoes, and dress for the weather. This event is free and does not require any reservations.
At Aztec Ruins the ancestral people certainly paid close attention to the movement of the sun through the changing seasons. One example is the back wall of the Great House is aligned with the sun’s location as it touches the horizon with the summer solstice sunrise and the winter solstice sunset. It took several years of observation of the sun to correctly align the back wall.
Additionally, potential alignments are visible within the Great Kiva as well. The locations of "doorways of light" during well-known solar and lunar alignment days have long inspired park rangers, visitors and archeoastronomies alike to wonder if these potential alignments held great importance to the ancestral Pueblo culture living here centuries ago. Although the Great Kiva is reconstructed, the original doorway locations were well documented during the excavation by Earl Morris.
During the winter solstice, the sunset location appears to “stand still” in its southernmost point on the horizon for multiple days.
For more information about the solstice events at Aztec Ruins call (505) 334-6174.