All about ABIQUIU, NM
Abiquiu is about 60 miles north of Santa Fe on US highway 84. This road from Santa Fe is generally passable as far as Abiquiu even after winter storms, as unlike some of the region’s other highways, it stays in the valley. However, north of Abiquiu, it can be messy in the winter, so check on conditions if you’re approaching from Colorado. The nearest major airport is in Albuquerque 60 miles south of Santa Fe.
The Historical View
Ancient Pueblo peoples populated the region for millennia prior to the arrival of Spanish explorers in the 1600s.
Santa Rosa de Abiquiu
This site is off US Highway 84 just south of Abiquiu. The ruins are the remnants of the original Spanish settlement. Santa Rosa de Abiquiu was built in the 1730s, abandoned in 1748 because of Indian raids, resettled in 1750, and again abandoned when the population moved into the Genizaro pueblo.
The Village was settled following a 1754 Spanish land grant to Hispanicized Indians (Genizaros) and was a frontier settlement for more than 80 years. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Abiquiu was a center of trade for Plains and Pueblo Indians, and a point of departure for those traveling along the northern Spanish Trail to Spanish settlements in California. A Catholic church built by the community in the 1930s has become the Plaza’s centerpiece.
The Old Spanish Trail
One route of the Old Spanish Trail goes through the Rio Chama valley and Abiquiu. The trail takes its name from the old Spanish colonies in northern New Mexico and southern California which were linked by this rugged route. The Spanish outpost of Santa Fe, NM was founded in the early 1600s ten years before the Plymouth Colony was established by the Mayflower pilgrims. The presidio of Monterey was founded in 1770 and the San Gabriel Mission in 1771. But it was not until 1829 that a suitable land passage between these colonies in the interior of New Mexico and the California coast became established and regularly used. Today, only a few remnant traces of the trail can be seen where hundreds of fast trotting mules and their tired muleteers once traversed the high country of New Mexico and Colorado on their way to California’s fertile trading fields.
For traveling Mexican caravans between 1829 and 1848, the Old Spanish Trail was known as the shortest path to riches between Los Angeles and Santa Fe. It was a trail of commercial opportunity and western adventure as well as slave trading, horse thieving and raids. The Trail route was established along a loose network of Indian footpaths that crossed the wide expanse of the Colorado Plateau and the Mojave Desert. With time, this newly established trade corridor attracted frontiersman and U.S. military expeditions.
Art & Studio Tours
Abiquiu Studio Tour
Each fall for the last 17 years, the artists of Abiquiu have hosted the annual Abiquiu Studio Tour during the three-day Columbus Day weekend. The distinctive works of over 60 local artists, creating from a variety of media, will be displayed in the artist’s studios and other venues. Art aficionados enjoy works from fiber weaving to mask making and from painting to pottery. www.abiquiustudiotour.org
Abiquiu Chamber Music – Summer weekend afternoons Rio Chama
Extraordinary chamber music as it should be experienced: in an incomparable natural setting overlooking the Rio Chama and close to the performers. Audience members become part of an intimate sharing of varied works for different mediums and are able to mingle and talk with the artists at the post-concert dinner “meet the Artists”. www.abiquiumusic.com
Georgia O’Keeffe – Home and Studio
Off dusty County Road 164 in the historic Village of Abiquiu is the home & studio of the quintessentially American artist Georgia O’Keeffe a major figure in 20th century American art (1887-1986). The buildings, their immediate surroundings, and the views they command of mountains, mesas, cerros, and skyscapes inspired many of O’Keeffe’s best-known paintings and combine to provide insight into her vision and process. O’Keeffe moved from New York City to Abiquiu in the late 1940s and lived in this 5,000-square-foot home dating from the Spanish Colonial era. Seasonal tours open to the public. www.okeeffemuseum.org
Exhibitions at the Galleria Arriba
Each season local artists are selected to display their works in an upstairs gallery in the picturesque Abiquiu Inn. www.abiquiuinn.com
Abiquiu Points of Interest
Christ in the Desert Monastery
This Benedictine Abbey is located in a beautiful and isolated spot on the Chama River. The road is not totally maintained, and is often impassable after snow or rain storms. The monks practice the Benedictine life of prayer, reading, and manual labor which now also include a beautiful scriptorium. http://www.christdesert.org.
Dar al Islam
The North African-style mosque and attached school were constructed in the early 1980’s with the dream of starting a model village showcasing Islam in America. The facility, with a training and worship structure that contains a school, library, elaborate prayer rooms, and living quarters, is dedicated to the betterment of society through education and cooperation. http://www.daralislam.org
In the 1930’s Arthur Pack bought a ranch in northern New Mexico known as Ghost Ranch writing two books about the Ranch and his family’s experiences. The 21,000 acre Ranch was part of a land grant to Pedro Martin Serrano from the King of Spain in 1766. The grant was called Piedra Lumbre (shining rock/stone). The name “Ghost Ranch,” or the local name “El Rancho de los Brujos (witches),” was derived from the many tales of ghosts and legends of hangings in the Ranch’s history. There were many bones to be found in this high desert country, Georgia O’Keeffe painted and displayed them. Paleontologists digging at the Ranch discovered a fully intact Late Triassic Period, theropod dinosaur Coelophysis bauri, that was later designated as the New Mexico State Fossil. In 1955 Arthur and Phoebe Pack, presented the ranch to the Board of Christian Education Presbyterian Church, USA, to be used as a national retreat and education center. www.ghostranch.org
Lakes and Reservoirs on the Rio Chama
Fishing, swimming, rafting, sailing, water skiing, canoeing, and kayaking are available on three easily accessible lakes up river from Abiquiu. Abiquiu Reservoir Dam, creating Abiquiu Lake was constructed in 1963 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and now covers about 2,000 acres of former Ghost Ranch land. This is the second of three dams, creating Heron & El Vado Lakes, constructed on the Chama River watershed between 1935 and 1972. Swimming, camping, hiking, fishing and picnicking are offered at Canjilón Lakes located near the 10,000 foot Cerro Canjilón.
Chama River Wilderness
The Wild and Scenic Chama River runs through the 50,300-acre Chama River Canyon Wilderness where you can enjoy the rush of a whitewater raft trip. The walls of the Chama Canyon are a striking variety of colors from yellows to maroons marking the distinct layers of sedimentary rock. With the elevation differences, the vegetation varies from Pinon and juniper to ponderosa and fir with lots of Gambel oak, chamisa and cactus. Above the high sandstone bluffs and prominent rock formations that line the river canyon, the trail system is in need of maintenance.
The sandstone walls of this National Forest Service site provide a remarkable resonance. The ‘theater’, naturally hollowed out by ages of erosion creating concave cliffs of buff and crimson, create lasting echoes.
Given its unusual and spiritual landscape it’s no wonder that Plaza Blanca, is painted and photographed by countless artists every year including Georgia O’Keeffe. The canyon wall faces of gray to whitish sedimentary rock formations have been sculpted by wind and moisture in whimsical figurines.
Cerro Pedernal (Flint Peak), one of the most recognized landmarks in north-central New Mexico, is located in the northern Jemez Mountains, was depicted in numerous paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe. Cerro Pedernal lies in the transition zone between the Colorado Plateau and the Rio Grande rift. The andesite and basalt flows capping Cerro Pedernal, which give the mountain its distinctive flat top, erupted from the northern Jemez volcanic field about 8 million years ago. http://geoinfo.nmt.edu/tour/landmarks/cerro_pedernal/home.html
The Poshouinge Ruins
Remnants of an old pueblo above the Chama River Valley include a large pueblo with over 700 ground-floor rooms surrounding 2 large plazas with a large kiva in the larger plaza.
On Location – Movie Filming
The stunning landscape has attracted numerous movie makers to set all or a portion of their films in Abiquiu from Indiana Jones to City Slickers.
Lodging, Shopping & Dining
Bode’s General Store
During the Spanish colonial era the then called “Grant Brothers” on the Old Spanish Trail served as a stagecoach stop, a jail, a post office, and a store. Martin Bode secured the property in 1919. Today Bode’s is a community gathering place offering Gas, groceries, baked goods, coffee, beer, wine, liquor, fishing licenses, housewares, gear and delicious deli fare.
The Abiquiu Inn and Café Abiquiu
Located on Highway 84, the Inn, with Classic New Mexican style architecture, offers lodging, a restaurant with free internet service, gift shop & gallery and Casitas with fireplaces & views.
505-685-4378, 800-447-5621 abiquiuinn.com
Casita de Chuparosa
Charming B & B Style Vacation Home Rentals in Abiquiu, Hilltop Hot Tub, 360 O’Keeffe Painting Views, On 28 Acres, Onsite Hiking + Horses, Artistically Furnished, Original Art, Over 300+ Online Guest Reviews! www.abiquiu.net
Las Parras de Abiquiu
This charming Bed &Breakfast with separate casita of two spacious bedrooms provides all the luxuries – fireplaces, king-size beds & hot tub. 505-685-4200 or 800-817-5955 lasparras.com