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  Within a 60-mile radius of Santa Fe, an array of state and national forests, parks, monuments and campgrounds awaits you. Visit ancient Indian ruins, historic sites and trails, old railroad routes and mining towns, geological formations and more. Whether you explore by car or on foot, you'll find this one of the most beautiful and fascinating areas in the country       

Go check out our must-see sights, local hangouts and unforgettable activities.

El Rancho de las Golondrinas - Once the last stop on the 1,000-mile trail from Mexico City to Santa Fe, this 200-acre ranch now operates as a living 18th- and 19th-century Spanish village. Visitors can roam through the hacienda, village store, schoolhouse, chapels, blacksmith forges, and weaving rooms.
Loretto Chapel - This chapel, designed by the same French architects responsible for the Saint Francis Cathedral, was intended as a worship space for the school for young women operated by the Sisters of Loretto. The most remarkable feature is the spiral staircase ascending to the choir loft, which makes two 360-degree turns and was constructed with no central support or nails.
Roundhouse (New Mexico State Capitol) - The only round capitol building in the United States, this structure was inspired by the symbol of the Zia Pueblo, a sun sign that represents the Circle of Life. The four main doorways symbolize the four winds, directions, seasons, and sacred obligations. The capitol is surrounded by a beautiful six-acre garden, and the corridor walls are adorned with New Mexican art from the Capitol Art Foundation collection. There are guided tours daily at 10am and 2pm.
Madrid - Located just south of Santa Fe, in the mineral rich Ortiz Mountains, Madrid is in the oldest coal mining region in New Mexico.
Saint Francis Cathedral - This Romanesque cathedral stands out in downtown Santa Fe for its French architecture in the midst of an adobe town. The church was built in 1869, when the pope sent French bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy to Santa Fe to “tame” the native population by introducing European religion and culture. A small adobe chapel previously on this site was incorporated into the northeastern side of the cathedral, and still houses the oldest Madonna statue in the United States.
San Miguel Mission - The oldest church still in use in the United States, this simple adobe structure is adorned with buffalo hide and deerskin Bible paintings used by Franciscan missionaries to teach the Native Americans about Christianity. This is the best place for visitors to get a real feel for colonial Catholicism.
Admission free for children six and under.
Any spot beside the road under a cottonwood tree during chile-harvesting season - In August through September, enterprising farmers set up tumble dryer-like roasting machines under cottonwood trees to roast freshly picked chiles for sale to passing motorists.
Outdoor hot tubs at Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe - Come to this Japanese-style health spa to unwind after a day's cavorting on the slopes or in the dusty desert. 3 1/2 mi outside town on Hyde Park Rd., tel. 505/982-9304.
Santa Fe at Christmastime - New Mexico's capital is at its most festive at the end of December, with incense and piñon smoke sweetening the air and the winter darkness illuminated by thousands farolitos (tiny lanterns).
Rio Grande Pueblos
Take a driving tour of the pueblos (villages) of the Rio Grande, which are still inhabited by the Native American groups whose ancestors were here to greet the Spanish in 1540.
Coyote Cafe
Celebrity chef Mark Miller's Coyote Café is the perfect place to splurge, as the banana-crusted sea bass and other original Southwest dishes are simply delicious.
Bandelier National Monument
Clamber through the elaborately designed ancient cliff dwellings of Bandelier National Monument, 35 miles northwest of the city.
Museum of International Folk Art
The Museum of International Folk Art has a huge collection of dolls and figurines from around the world, all arranged in colorful dioramas.
Santa Fe has 44 public tennis courts, four private tennis clubs with indoor and outdoor courts as well as racquet clubs offering superb racquetball and handball facilities
Santa Fe's newest public golf course, the Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe, is gaining a reputation as one of the finest facilities in the state. An 18 hole course, with 5 tee boxes per hole, a 9 hole par 28 course and driving range are set in the rolling hills just 15 minutes from downtown. The Golf complex overlooks the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez Mountains and offers visitors quality, convenience and value. For tee times and information call, 505-955-4400. The Santa Fe Country Club is a semi-private 18 hole course open to public play. Call (505) 471-2626 for tee times and directions. About 40 minutes south of Santa Fe, the Cochiti Lake area also provides a beautiful public course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., against a stunning backdrop of mountains and mesas. (505) 465-2239.
Horseback Rides
Guided horseback rides can be arranged into the local foothills, Galisteo Basin or Pecos Wilderness while jeep tours take visitors onto the seldom traveled back roads of Northern New Mexico.
Santa Fe Ski Area
Experience an unforgettable skiing and snowboarding this season.
Palace of the Governors
Built in 1610, Santa Fe's Palace of the Governors is the oldest public building in the US, and you can tour its well-preserved interior, which houses excellent displays on New Mexico history.
Railroad Trips
Two historic railroad lines run regular tours of the area. The Santa Fe Southern Railroad runs trips between Santa Fe and Lamy, N.M. while the Cumbres & Toltec takes off from Chama, N.M., two hours north of Santa Fe, over the longest and highest narrow gauge steam railroad route in the country.
Canyon Road
Claiming to be the oldest road in the US, Canyon Road is lined by adobe-made stores full of art, crafts and antiques.
Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum holds the world's largest collection of O'Keeffe's canvases, spanning from her wildly innovative Southwest landscapes to some seldom-cited urban scenes.
Tecolote Cafe
The Tecolote Café may be trendy, but its yummy huevos rancheros are as spicily authentic as you'll find.


Visiting the Rio Grande Pueblos

The first Spaniards to explore what's now New Mexico were greeted with hospitality by a settled population of around a hundred thousand people, living in perhaps a hundred villages and towns. However, the people the Spaniards named the Pueblo Indians (pueblo is Spanish for "village") soon grew to resent the imposition of Catholicism and the virtual enslavement of Pueblo laborers. In the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the various tribes banded together and ousted the entire colonial regime, killing scores of priests and soldiers and sending hundreds more south to Mexico. After the Spanish returned in 1693, the Pueblos showed little further resistance, and they have co-existed surprisingly amicably ever since, accepting aspects of Catholicism – most pueblos have a large adobe church at their core – without giving up their traditional beliefs and practices.

New Mexico is now home to around forty thousand Pueblo Indians, with each of its nineteen autonomous pueblos having its own laws and system of government. All have been modernized to some extent, and the recent explosion of Native American gaming has seen many open their own casinos, at sites usually located along the major highways well away from the residential areas. However, all also proudly retain the "Old Ways". Saints' days, major Catholic holidays such as Easter and the Epiphany, and even the Fourth of July, are celebrated with a combination of Native American traditions and Catholic rituals, featuring elaborately costumed dances and massive communal feasts.

Most pueblos are not the tourist attractions they're often touted to be. The best known, Taos and Ácoma, retain their ancient defensive architecture, but the rest tend to be dusty adobe hamlets scattered around a windblown plaza. Unless you arrive on a feast day, or are a knowledgeable shopper in search of Pueblo crafts (most have their own specialties), visits are liable to prove disappointing. In addition, you'll certainly be made to feel unwelcome if you fail to behave respectfully – don't go "exploring" places that are off limits to outsiders, such as shrines, kivas or private homes.

Fifteen of the pueblos are concentrated along the Rio Grande north of Albuquerque, with a long-standing division between the seven southern pueblos, south of Santa Fe, most of which speak Keresan, and the group to north, which mostly speak Tewa (pronounced tay-wah) and jointly promote themselves as the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos (505/852-4265 or 1-800/793-4955). Visitors to each are required to register at a visitor center; some charge an admission fee of around $3, and all charge additional fees of $5 for still photography, $10–15 for video cameras and up to $100 for sketching. There's no extra charge for feast days or dances, but photography is often forbidden on special occasions.

For details of guided tours, contact Nambe Pueblo Tours (505/820-1340 or 1-800/946-2623).


Bandelier National Monument

New Mexico's mountainous north is the New Mexico of popular imagination, with its pastel colors, vivid desert landscape and adobe architecture. Even state capital Santa Fe, the one real city, is with well under 100,000 residents hardly metropolitan in scale, and the narrow streets of its small, historic center, though regularly thronged with tourists, retain the feel of long-gone days. Ranging along the headwaters of the Rio Grande 75 miles northeast, the amiable frontier town of Taos was immortalized by Georgia O'Keeffe and D H Lawrence, and is remarkable chiefly for the stacked dwellings of neighboring Taos Pueblo.

An hour's drive west from Taos or Santa Fe brings you to Bandelier National Monument, where ancient cliff dwellings have been carved out of the same forested volcanic plateau that holds the eerie Los Alamos National Weapons Lab. Alternatively, the hills to the east of the Rio Grande hold a succession of characterful Hispanic hamlets strung along a scenic mountain highway known as the High Road.

Museum of International Folk Art

On a slightly raised plateau two miles southeast of the town center, with extensive views of the hills and mountains that almost entirely surround the city, stands Santa Fe's other concentration of museums, reachable by Santa Fe Trails bus #10. The delightful Museum of International Folk Art, part of the New Mexico State Museum, focuses on a huge collection of clay figurines and models from around the world, arranged in colorful dioramas that include a Pueblo Feast Day with dancing kachinas and camera-clicking tourists. The Hispanic Heritage Wing is an engaging reminder of just how close New Mexico's ties have always been with Mexico itself, while the museum's giftshop sells some unusual ethnic souvenirs. Under the title From This Earth, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, across the parking lot, also part of the New Mexico State Museum, holds a superb array of Native American pottery, ranging from Anasazi and ancient Pueblo pieces right up to the works of twentieth-century revivalists, and uses touch-screen CD-ROM technology to illuminate and explain the traditions and processes involved.

Palace of the Governors

Santa Fe's old central plaza is still the focus of town life, especially during the annual Indian Market on the weekend after the third Thursday in August, when buyers and craftspeople come from all over the world, and during the Labor Day weekend for the Fiestas de Santa Fe. Apart from an influx of art galleries and stylish restaurants, the web of narrow streets around the plaza has changed little through the centuries. When the Yankees took over in 1848, they neglected the adobes and chose instead to build in wood, but many of the finer adobe houses have survived, thanks in part to a 1930s preservation campaign. Since then almost every non-adobe structure within sight of the plaza, even the downtown Woolworth's, has been designed or redecorated to suit the city-mandated Spanish Revival mode, with oddly sloping, rounded, mud-colored plaster walls supporting roof beams made of thick pine logs (called vigas). Santa Fe today, in fact – at least at its core – looks much more like its original Spanish self than it did a hundred years ago.

The main focus of the plaza, and the principal model for Santa Fe's revived architectural unity, is the Palace of the Governors, which fills its entire northern side. Part of the Museum of New Mexico, this low-slung and initially unprepossessing structure is actually the oldest public building in the US. Originally sod-roofed, it was constructed in 1610 as the headquarters of Spanish colonial administration; the name may now seem misleadingly grand, but the building was once much larger. The well-preserved interior, organized around an open-air courtyard, holds excellent displays on New Mexico's history, plus photos that show that until 1913 the palace itself looked like a typical, formal, territorial building, with a square tower at each corner. Its subsequent adobe "reconstruction" was based on pure conjecture. The arcaded adobe veranda along its front, offering protection from both sun and wind, serves as a market for local Native American crafts-sellers.

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Just west of the palace, the Museum of Fine Arts is housed in a particularly attractive adobe, with ornamental beams and a cool central courtyard. It's also one of the few major art museums to be established by artists, as opposed to educators or collectors, and focuses on changing exhibits of contemporary painting and sculpture by mostly local artists. The showpiece new Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, a block northwest at 217 Johnson St, opened in 1997, with ten galleries housing the largest collection of O'Keeffe's work in the world. Pieces range in date from 1914 – thus pre-dating her exposure to New Mexico, though a 1915 rendition of Palo Duro Canyon in Texas hints at the abstractions to come – up to 1982. Among the sun-bleached skulls and iconic flowers sold in print galleries throughout the Southwest, some less familiar New York cityscapes make a surprising contrast. Most of the desert landscapes were painted near Abiquiu, forty miles northwest of Santa Fe, where O'Keeffe lived from 1946 until her death in 1986.

Across the tiny Santa Fe River to the southwest, three blocks along Guadalupe Street, you'll find a less celebrated but equally attractive little district, centered around the small but beautiful Santuario de Guadalupe (May–Oct Mon–Sat 9am–4pm; Nov–April Mon–Fri 9am–4pm; donation). Complete with a fine Baroque reredos (altarpiece), the shrine was built at the end of the eighteenth century to mark the end of the Camino Real highway from Mexico City. Old warehouses and small factory premises nearby, such as the Sanbusco Centre on Montezuma Avenue, have been converted to house boutiques, art galleries and restaurants.

Follow the river upstream, or walk two blocks east from the plaza, and you approach a building, strangely out of place among Santa Fe's earthy adobes, looming at the top of San Francisco Street. St Francis Cathedral, the first church west of the Mississippi to be designated a cathedral, was built in 1869 by Archbishop Lamy. French-educated Lamy, the title figure in Willa Cather's novel Death Comes for the Archbishop, commissioned the building in the formal – and, frankly, dreary – Romanesque style popular in France. The nearby Loretto Chapel, a block away at the start of Old Santa Fe Trail, is known for its so-called "Miraculous Staircase", an elegant spiral built without nails or obvious means of support. During construction, the church's designer is said to have been killed by Lamy's cousin, so that for years there was no way up to the choir loft. According to legend, an unknown carpenter arrived in answer to the nuns' prayers, built the stairs and then disappeared.

Two blocks south, across the river along the Old Santa Fe Trail, is the ancient San Miguel Mission (Mon–Sat 10am–4pm, Sun 2–4.30pm). Only a few of the massive adobe internal walls survive from the original 1610 building, most of which was destroyed in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. The chapel is the heart of the old Barrio de Analco workers' district, whose many two-hundred-year-old houses now form one of Santa Fe's most appealing residential neighborhoods.

Not far away to the east, gallery-lined Canyon Road – which stakes a claim to being the oldest street in the US, dating from Pueblo days – climbs a steady but shallow incline along the river bed and is lined by dozens of fine adobes.


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