Though Abiquiú is a small village, home to approximately 150 people, it is the epicenter of an enormous amount of history, with an abundance of things to see and do for visitors.
If you are interested in the history of the community or you are looking for lodging and dining suggestions, check out The Allure of Abiquiú.
Georgia O’Keeffe maintained two homes in Northern New Mexico. The first was a small cabin on a 12-acre parcel of land next to Ghost Ranch. The other is next to the plaza in Abiquiú. Tours of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Abiquiú home and studio are available from March through November.
2) Poshuouinge Pueblo (about 2 miles from Bode’s)
Poshuouinge (“poe-shoo-wingay”) is a large ancestral Tewa Pueblo about 2.5 miles south of Abiquiú on US-84. The Tewa built the pueblo around 1400 on top of a high mesa, 150 feet above the Rio Chama. It has also been referred to as Turquoise Ruin, though there is no evidence that turquoise has ever been found in the area.
There are two springs located about 500-feet south of the ruins. Archaeologists believe the springs were the main sources of water for the pueblo. Most of the structure was 2-3 stories tall, with approximately 700 ground floor rooms. There were two main plazas, with a great kiva near the center of the eastern courtyard. The Tewa abandoned the pueblo around 1450-1475, possibly due to an increase in raids or drought.
3) Hike Plaza Blanca (about 4 miles from Bode’s, owned by Dar al-Islam)
Hike the hoodoos of Abiquiú, aka Georgia O’Keeffe’s “White Place.” The 2.8-mile loop trail takes about an hour to walk. The Abiquiú Formation consists of light-gray to yellowish-gray, locally crossbedded, thin to thick beds of sandstone and siltstone. The formation is composed mostly of volcanic debris from the Latir volcanic field, which provides insight into the early development of the Rio Grande rift in northern New Mexico.
Located on the property of the Dar-al Islam Education Center, Plaza Blanca is both monumental and fragile. Please stay on the trail and follow Leave No Trace principles.
4) Private tour of Mesa Prieta Petroglyph site (25 miles, 30 minutes)
There are as many as 100,000 petroglyphs on Mesa Prieta, including the largest number of historic petroglyphs in New Mexico. Historic images include Spanish lions, lots of crosses, wagons, inscriptions, dates, names, initials, churches and humans. Project volunteers have recorded over 55,000 petroglyphs and cultural landscape features thus far. They represent 10,000 years of human habitation around Mesa Prieta in the area.
Researchers have found shrines, water control systems, check dams, lithic scatters, ceramics, field houses, and other archaeological features so far. They have documented grid gardens and trails, both ancient and historic. For some reason the ancient illustrators tagged the prehistoric trails with turkey track petroglyphs.
Located near Velarde, the site is not open to the public; however, they offer private tours. If you are interested, please check the tours page for more information or to book.
5) Ojo Caliente Hot Springs (32 miles, 34 minutes)
For thousands of years, travelers and locals alike have been drawn to Ojo Caliente’s pure, natural spring waters. Tewa tradition holds that its pools provided access to the underworld. The original place name is Posi or P’oseuinge, which translates to “village at the place of the green bubbling hot springs.”
A bathhouse was constructed in 1860 by a couple from Taos, making Ojo Caliente one of the oldest health resorts in North America. Today, Ojo provides respite from the stress and pace of the modern world, with therapeutic spring-fed soaking, rejuvenating spa treatments, farm-to-table dining, and unique local experiences.
The Monastery is situated in a beautiful, quiet canyon in northwestern New Mexico on the Rio Chama, surrounded by miles of wilderness area. The chief architect of the original monastery was George Nakashima, famous Japanese-American woodworker and architect. The church, meditation garden (next to the church), gift shop, and restrooms located in the lobby are open to the public. Visitors are welcomed. There is limited overnight lodging available.
The monastery is located at the end of Forest Service Road 151, which is about 14 miles off US-84. The turn-off is between Ghost Ranch and Echo Amphitheater, just north of mile marker 227, approximately 75 miles northwest of Santa Fe, 53 miles south of Chama. The road is dirt and gravel. There are no services and cell phone reception is sketchy. It is safe for standard vehicles when it is dry, but it can be treacherous when wet, including washing out occasionally. During inclement weather, a four-wheel drive vehicle is advisable. There are several turnouts with access to the Rio Chama for fishing, rafting, picnicking, and hiking.
Christ in the Desert Monastery | Forest Service Road 151
☎ (801) 545-8567
9:15 am-5:00 pm
(29 miles, takes over an hour from Abiquiú due to dirt roads)
The Chama Canyon is a full day, 2-day or 3-day adventure. The full day Chama tour begins downstream of the Christ of the Desert Monastery. The rapids are a roiling, class three. The two day float has a few rapids, but it is mostly peaceful river, with occasional ripples of excitement.
Same route as Christ in the Desert, but you cross a bridge to the west side of the river a few miles before you get to the monastery.
The Chama River Canyon Wilderness encompasses over 50,000 acres of the Santa Fe National Forest and the Carson National Forest. The Rio Chama feeds the canyon, with lush vegetation and an abundance of wildlife. Colorful sandstone cliffs rise 1,500 feel above the Rio Chama, a major tributary of the Rio Grande. There is car camping available. The area is popular for hiking, fishing, and rafting.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages a 22 mile stretch of the Rio Chama, from El Vado Ranch to the Chavez Canyon access. The 9 miles between Chavez Canyon boat launch and Big Eddy access is managed by the Santa Fe National Forest Coyote Ranger District.
7) Ghost Ranch (13 miles, about 13 minutes)
Ghost Ranch was created and built by Bostonian Carol Bishop Stanley in the early 1930s. Stanley ran it as a guest ranch until environmentalist Arthur Pack bought Ghost Ranch from her in 1936. Pack gave Ghost Ranch to the Presbyterian Church in 1955. Home of the Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology.
People visit from around the world to attend workshops, to paint, to write, to hike, to ride horses, to research archaeological sites or the fossil quarries, or simply to spend quiet, quality time with family or friends. Overall, Ghost Ranch is a great place to relax, recharge, and recalibrate when you want (or need) to take refuge from the clamor of the world. There is rustic lodging, as well as camping available. Clean and comfortable, with a magnificent view.
8) Abiquiú Lake (8 miles, 10 minutes)
This 5,200 surface acre reservoir offers some of the best fishing in northern New Mexico. The lake is surrounded by red sandstone formations on Hwy 84 and adjacent to historical Pedernal, an old volcano, to the south on Hwy 96. Reptile fossils 200 million years old have been found in the area.
Riana Campground is located on a 150 ft. bluff overlooking the lake. There are 52 campsites, 13 of which have electric and water hookups. Flush toilets, showers, and drinking water are provided, as are picnic shelters, grills, lantern posts, and tent pads. A playground and dump station are located on-site.
The Echo Amphitheater Trail is a local favorite. The concrete trail from the parking lot leads to Echo Canyon, ascending at a moderately easy pace. The last part of the trail has steep stairs to the top. Rocks are a natural habitat for snakes. Watch for them.
3 miles west from Ghost Ranch, 44 miles south of Chama. Located on the west side of the highway.
The largest Pueblo on the Pajarito Plateau was located at Puye Cliffs. In the Tewa language, the name Puye translates to “pueblo ruin where the rabbits assemble or meet.” It was one of the ancestral villages of Santa Clara, San Ildefonso and Ohkay Owingeh Pueblos, occupied from about 900 AD to 1580 AD. The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966. Puye looked similar to modern-day Taos Pueblo. There were kitchen areas, common areas, sleeping quarters, garden plots, a reservoir, and an irrigation canal. They had an additional advantage in that pueblos built on top of inaccessible mesas were easy to defend.
Pueblos were the apartment complexes of the ancients, with a design that has withstood the test of time. The village consisted of two levels of caves cut into the cliffs and the ruins of a large pueblo on top of the mesa. There are over a dozen “stairs” from the top of the mesa to the base of the cliff. The stairs involve ladders and chipped hand holds. Archaeologists estimate that 1500 people lived in this community at its peak.
From Santa Fe/ABQ: take I-285/84 North to the Los Alamos exit/NM 502. Follow 502 to NM 30, turn right, look for sign on left for Puye. Follow road for approximately 7 miles to the cliff dwellings visitor center.
11) Cumbres Toltec (Chama, approximately 2-hours round trip)
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is the longest, highest, and most complete example of late 19th and early 20th century narrow gauge, steam-powered railroading in the United States. The railway is named based on its two most-prominent features, the 1,000-foot Toltec Gorge, which is one of the sheerest drops in the United States, and Cumbres Pass, which, at 10,015 feet, is the highest railroad pass in the country.
The railroad, designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2012, has the country’s largest collection of narrow-gauge locomotives and cars. In total, they have 185 cars stored in the railroad yards at Chama and Antonito, including 11 locomotives. Additionally, they have restored numerous historic structures on the route, including two tunnels, bridges, section houses and water tanks. Full-Day, Half-Day tours available.
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