The Dittert Ruins site is located on the southeast side of the El Malpais area of northwest New Mexico. Travel about 32 miles south from Grants on Highway 117 to a junction with gravel County Road 41, then 3.7 miles to a two track dirt road labeled Armijo Canyon Road.
The Dittert site is shown on the El Malpais park brochure and there is a specific trail guide available at the Visitor Centers.
It is 1.3 miles along Armijo Canyon Road to a parking area and fence to the Cebolla Wilderness Area. A foot trail continues east toward Armijo Canyon where there may be ruins sites and petroglyphs.
The Dittert Ruins Site is about 0.5 miles to the northeast without a trail leading to it. It is visible with binoculars as a rubble pile from the parking area and there is a large wash to cross. Cows might be grazing along the way.
The park brochure says that the site was occupied sometime between 1000 and 1300 AD by Ancestral Pueblos. It was partially excavated by Alfred Dittert from 1947-49, and is L-shaped with 30-35 rooms. The site diagram shows that 9 rooms and an enclosed kiva were excavated. The masonry looks like large sandstone slabs without much chinking with small stones. The excavated walls appear to have been stabilized with cement.
The kiva doesn’t show any floor features or support pilasters for the roof. It is thought that extended drought forced the abandonment of the site and the people moved to join the Acoma Pueblo. The site shows no sign of burning, as if the residents intended to return.
Like many remote sites, there is a hiker display of artifacts. The brochure discusses whether this is a Chaco Canyon outlier and points out the resemblances, but the question remains unanswered. This site may have been remodeled long after the Chaco influence had waned.
There are several unexcavated rubble pile sites in the near vicinity. The brochure mentions that there is a great kiva here but it was hard to tell which rubble pile it was.
The hike to the site takes 0:15 minutes if you stay on course. I spent 1:00 hour here on an 88 F degree mid June day. I was the only visitor during my hike.