Experience More

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Ranchos de Taos

n 1139 Paseo de Pueblo Sur, Taos; www.taos.org

Three miles (5 km) southwest of central Taos, this settle-ment centered around a peaceful plaza is home to the striking adobe church of San Francisco de Asis, built from 1710 to 1755. One of the finest examples of mission architec-ture in the Southwest, it has provided inspiration for many artists and was a frequent subject of the innovative American modernist artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

The Hacienda Martínez is a Spanish colonial house built in 1804 and one of very few still in existence. Its thick adobe walls and heavy zaguan (entry) gates give it a fortress-like quality. Inside, 21 rooms surround two courtyards. The first owner, Antonio Severino Martínez, prospered through trade with Mexico and later became mayor of Taos. Examples of the merchandise he sold are displayed here.

San Francisco de Asis

60 St Francis Plaza # 9am–4pm Mon–Sat ¢ Early Jun

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Hacienda Martínez

708 Hacienda Way # Times vary, check website taoshistoricmuseums.org

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t The church of San Francisco de Asis, with a marble statue of the saint in front

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Taos Pueblo

120 Veterans Hwy, Taos # 8am– 4:30pm Mon–Sat, 8:30am–4:30pm Sun taospueblo.com

Taos Pueblo is one of the oldest communities in the United States, having been occupied continuously for around 1,000 years. Two multistory adobe communal houses sit on opposite sides of the open central “square.” Known as North House and South House, they are the largest pueblo buildings in the country and are thought to date from the early 1700s. More than 100 people live year round at Taos Pueblo as their ancestors did, with no electricity, and water supplied only from a stream. Sights include the 1850 St. Jerome Chapel, the ruins of the earlier 1619 San Geronimo Church, and the central plaza, with its drying racks for corn and chili and adobe ovens, or hornos. Several ground-floor dwellings are now craft shops. Guided tours are available, but visitors are asked to follow etiquette; permission must be granted prior to photographing a resident, and visitors must follow posted signs and rules. No cameras are permitted during ceremonial dances, but several festivals are open to visitors throughout the year.

The Rio Grande

From its source in Colorado, the fifth-longest river in the US flows southeast to the Gulf of Mexico, forming the entire boundary between Texas and Mexico. It was used for irrigation by the pueblos since ancient times, and in the 16th century Spanish colonists estab-lished settlements along it. Today, crops including cotton, citrus fruits, and vegetables are grown along its fertile banks.

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Taos Ski Valley

n 10 Thunderbird Rd; www.taosskivalley.com

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t Skiers tackling the runs at the Taos Ski Valley resort beneath Wheeler Peak

During the early 1900s, Taos Ski Valley was a bustling mining camp. In 1955, Swiss-born skier Ernie Blake began developing a world-class ski resort on the northern slopes and snow bowls of Wheeler Peak, the highest summit in New Mexico. Located 19 miles (30 km) north of Taos, it has 14 lifts and 113 runs for all abilities, but it is particularly known for its challenging expert terrain. The ski season itself generally runs from Thanksgiving to early April, depending on the weather. The valley also makes a spectacular summer retreat, popular with those seeking relief from the summer heat.

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Los Alamos

n 109 Central Park Sq; www.visitlosalamos.org

Los Alamos is famous as the location of the Manhattan Project, the US government’s top-secret research program that developed the atomic bomb during World War II. Government scientists took over this remote site in 1943, and in 1945 the first atomic bomb was detonated in the southern New Mexico desert near Alamogordo.

Today, the town is home to scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a leading defense facility. The Bradbury Science Museum showcases its current and historic research and includes replicas of the Little Boy and Fat Man atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The Los Alamos History Museum cov-ers the geology of the region.

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Bradbury Science Museum

1350 Central Ave # 10am–5pm Tue–Sat, 1–5pm Sun & Mon ¢ Public hols lanl.gov/museum

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Los Alamos History Museum

1050 Bathtub Row # 10am–4pm daily (9am– 4pm in summer) ¢ Public hols losalamoshistory.org

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Jemez Springs

n 80 Jemez Springs Plaza; www.jemezsprings.org

The tiny town of Jemez Springs lies in San Diego Canyon, by the Jemez River, on land once occupied by the Giusewa Pueblo. Its ruins and those of a 17th-century mission church are now part of the Jemez Historic Site, where you will find fascinating remnants of its walls and a reconstruction of its huge main gates. A few miles south, on Highway 4, is the large Jemez Pueblo, which is home to over 3,400 tribal members. The main village of Walatawa is open to visitors only on festival days, but the visitor center is open daily.

The region is also famous for its hot springs. Spence Hot Springs, 7 miles (11 km) north of town, has several outdoor hot pools linked by waterfalls. There are also commercial hot springs and spas in the town.

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Jemez Historic Site

Off Hwy 4 # 8:30am–5pm Wed–Sun ¢ Public hols nmhistoricsites.org/jemez

Jemez Pueblo

n Walatawa Visitor Center, 7413 Hwy 4; www.jemezpueblo.com

Experience Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico

The Atomic Age and space age

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t Spaceport America, New Mexico, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport

During World War II, fear that the Germans were developing an atomic bomb led the US to begin its own nuclear weapons program. In 1942 Britain and the US combined their research efforts in a program known as the Manhattan Project, based at Los Alamos. The clear skies, level ground, and sparse population made it an ideal top-secret testing area. Today, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque are the largest nuclear research facilities in the US, and remain important centers for military research and development.

Rocket Science

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t Replica of Fat Man, the atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki in August 1945

Robert H. Goddard (1882–1945) is often referred to as “the father of modern rocketry”, developing rocket science in his workshop in Roswell, New Mexico. He launched his first liquid-fueled rocket in Massachusetts in 1926 and performed 56 flight tests in Roswell in the 1930s. By 1935 he had developed rockets that could carry cameras and record instrument readings.

The Manhattan Project

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t Robert H. Goddard and his assistants inspecting a Goddard rocket in his workshop in Roswell, New Mexico

In 1943 an innocuous former boys’ school, the Los Alamos Ranch School set high on New Mexico’s remote Pajarito Plateau, was chosen as the research site for the top-secret Manhattan Project, which resulted in the world’s first nuclear explosion in July 1945. Work began immediately under the direction of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie R. Groves. In just over two years they had developed the first atomic bomb. It was detonated at the secluded Trinity Test Site, now the White Sands Missile Range, on July 16 1945. The decision to explode the bomb in warfare was highly controversial, and some of the scientists who developed the bomb signed a petition against its use. Displays on the project can be seen at the Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos and the Los Alamos Historical Museum.

Experience Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico

Space Flight

New Mexico is a key player in the space age as the site for NASA space missions and, more recently, Spaceport America.

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1 Ham the Astrochimp

Ham the space chimp is helped out of his capsule after becoming the first living creature to be sent into space in 1961 as part of America’s space program. He returned to Earth alive.

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2 Astronaut Training

New Mexico’s role in space, including astronaut training, is explored in the New Mexico Museum of Space History. Here astronauts Steven Robinson and Pedro Duque are training in a buoyancy tank, assisted by scuba divers, to simulate life in space in preparation for the 1998 Discovery shuttle mission.

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3 White Sands Missile Range

A space shuttle touches down on the Northrup strip at the White Sands Missile Range on March 30, 1982. The shuttle program ended in 2011, but White Sands remains a missile testing ground.

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4 Roswell

New Mexico is home to Roswell, site of the Roswell Incident, and many other UFO conspiracy theories, as illustrated by the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

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Pecos National Historical Park

Hwy 63 # Jun–Aug: 8am–6pm daily; Sep–May: 8am–4:30pm daily ¢ Jan 1, Thanksgiving, Dec 25 nps.gov/peco

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t A kiva at Pecos Pueblo mission church;

Located across Highway 63, 25 miles (40 km) southeast of Santa Fe, Pecos National Historical Park includes the ruins of the once-influential Pecos Pueblo. Situated in a pass through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, on the Pecos River, the pueblo dominated trade routes between Plains Indians and the Pueblo peoples between 1450 and 1550.

Pecos Puebloans acted as a conduit for goods such as buffalo skins and meat, and Puebloan products including pottery, textiles, and turquoise. The village is thought to have been among the largest in the Southwest. It stood up to five stories high, with nearly 700 rooms housing over 2,000 people, a quarter of them warriors. When the Spanish arrived in the early 1540s, it was a strong regional power and resisted Spanish settlement for many years, burning down the mission church built there and constructing a kiva (a ceremonial chamber) in its stead in 1618. However, the Spanish returned and rebuilt the mission in 1717, and by 1821 raids, disease, and migration had taken their toll; the pueblo was almost deserted, and the 17 remaining inhabitants moved to Jemez Pueblo.

The pueblo site can be seen on a 1.25-mile (2-km) trail that winds past the ruins of the two Spanish mission churches and two reconstructed kivas. The visitor center has exhibits of historic artifacts and crafts, and a video covering 1,000 years of Puebloan history in the area.

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t Ancient pottery

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GREAT VIEW

Glorieta Pass Battlefield Trail

The site of an 1862 battle during the American Civil War, the Glorieta Pass is a 2.3-mile (4-km) loop trail through lovely pinyon forest. Ask for the gate code and a map at the Pecos National Park Visitor Center.

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D. H. Lawrence Ranch

506 D.H. Lawrence Ranch Rd, Taos # 10am–2pm Thu–Fri, 10am–4pm Sat (weather permitting) dhlawrenceranch.unm.edu

Although British writer D. H. Lawrence (1885–1939) only lived for 11 months at what was then called the Kiowa Ranch, it was a pivotal time in his life. The ranch is now a shrine to the author of Sons and Lovers, Women in Love, and other classic novels. His wife Frieda made it her home after Lawrence’s death, and both are now buried in a small chapel that overlooks the buildings.

The ranch is reached after a long drive up a winding mountain road through the forest, its isolation no doubt appealing to a sensitive writer and artist like Lawrence. At the time it was a 6-mile (10-km) trip by horse and cart to the nearest town, San Cristobal.

The ranch is staffed by knowledgeable volunteers, who’ll gladly walk you round the handful of simple wooden buildings and tell you all about what life was like on the ranch for Lawrence and his wife. When they weren’t hiking the trails, they spent their time baking bread, chopping wood, milking their cow, and looking after their horses and chickens.

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Puye Cliff Dwellings

Hwy 30 & Santa Clara Canyon Rd, Española # 8am–6pm daily (may close earlier in winter) ¢ Week before Easter, Jun 13, Aug 12, Dec 25 puyecliffs.com

Home to the ancestors of today’s Santa Clara Pueblo people, these impressive cliff and cave dwellings lie 7,000 ft (2,134 m) above sea level on the Pajarito Plateau. Occupied from around AD 900 to 1580, they housed up to 1,500 residents in a multistory complex built around a central plaza.

Visitors may only enter the site with a Native American guide. There are different tour options depending on budget and ability. One tour takes you to the top of the mesa, another to the cliff dwellings, which involves a steep hike to the cliff face. Both offer fascinating insights into Pueblo life and magnificent views over the valley. The restored 1930s Harvey House, built from tufa blocks and volcanic rock, has a series of exhibits and artwork on discoveries made during excavations in 1907.

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Bandelier National Monument

Off Hwy 4 nps.gov/band

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t A cliff dwelling carved into volcanic rock at Bandelier National Monument

Set in the rugged cliffs and canyons of the Pajarito Plateau, Bandelier National Monument has over 3,000 archaeological sites that are the remains of an Ancestral Pueblo culture. The site is thought to have been occupied by ancestors of the Puebloan peoples for around 500 years from the 12th to the 16th centuries, when successive communities grew crops of corn and squash. The earliest occupants are thought to have carved

the soft volcanic rock of the towering cliffs to make cave dwellings; some time later, people built houses and pueblos from rock debris.

One of the most fascinating sights here is the ruin of the 400-room Tyuonyi pueblo. The settlement is laid out in semicircular lines of houses on the floor of Frijoles Canyon.

From the visitor center, the 1.3-mile (0.3-km) Main Loop Trail leads past the Tyuonyi village to some of the cave dwellings and the Long House – multistoried dwellings built into an 800-ft (240-m) stretch of the cliff. Petroglyphs can be spotted above the holes that once held the roof beams. Another short trail leads to the Alcove House, perched 150 ft (46 m) up in the rocks and reached by four wooden ladders and some stone stairs.

Did You Know?

With ranches covering over 60 percent of the state, New Mexico has more cows than human beings.

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Chimayó

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t Adobe gateway to Santuario de Chimayó;

This small town lies 25 miles (40 km) north of Santa Fe on the eastern flanks of the Rio Grande valley. Chimayó was settled by Spanish colonists in the 1700s on the site of an Indian pueblo famous for its healing natural spring. The site of the spring is now occupied by the Santuario de Chimayó, built by a local landowner in 1813–16 after he experienced a vision telling him to dig the foundations in earth blessed with healing powers. While digging here he uncovered a cross that once belonged to two martyred priests, and the church became a place of pilgrimage. The chapel has a beautiful reredos surrounding the crucifix and a side room with a pit of “holy dirt,” from which you may take a sample.

Chimayó is also known for its woven blankets and rugs, which have been produced by the Ortega family for several generations. Their workshop is just off the junction with Hwy 76, while farther along, the villages of Cordova and Truchas are also known for their fine craftwork.

Santuario de Chimayó

15 Santuario Dr # 9am–5pm daily (May–Sep: to 6pm) elsantuariodechimayo.us

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t Its interior

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Las Vegas

@ £ n 500 Railroad Ave; www.visitlasvegasnm.com

Not to be confused with its Nevada cousin, Las Vegas, New Mexico, has its own high-rolling past. The word vegas means “meadows” in Spanish, and the town’s old Plaza was established along the lush riverfront by Spanish settlers in 1835. A lucrative trade stop on the Santa Fe Trail, Las Vegas soon became a wild frontier town. The coming of the railroad in 1879 brought even greater prosperity, and new building took place around the station. Along with its newfound affluence came a wave of outlaws and other disreputa-ble characters, including Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, and Billy the Kid. Doc Holliday moved here in 1879 and briefly owned a saloon. Before long, he found himself in hot water having shot a man dead after an argument, and had to leave town.

Grand Victorian architecture still prevails, and self-guided tours are available from the visitor center. The City of Las Vegas Museum and Rough Rider Memorial Collection showcases artifacts and photographs from throughout Las Vegas history, including Native American pottery, costumes, furniture, and farming equipment.

1881

The year that Billy the Kid was killed. His index finger was sent to the local newspaper Las Vegas Optic.

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Abiquiu

This small adobe village with sunlit dusty streets was the home of the Southwest’s most famous and beloved artist, Georgia O’Keeffe, from 1946 until her death in 1986. Her village home and studio are open to visitors by reservation, and bookings must be made in advance with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. The country around Abiquiu, with its red rocks, mesas, and corrugated slopes, is known as O’Keeffe Country because it inspired so many of her abstract paintings.

A few miles north of town, is the fascinating Ghost Ranch, a retreat and education center established and now run by Presbyterians, which was one of O’Keeffe’s favorite places to paint. It features two museums, of local archaeology and palaeontology; the ranch is known for its collection of fossils. Several hiking trails also start from here.

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Ghost Ranch

280 Private Dr, Hwy 84 # Welcome Center: 8am–6pm daily ghostranch.org

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Chama

n 2372 Hwy 17; www.chamavalley.com

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t A Cumbres and Toltec steam train in the San Juan National Forest

Founded during the 1880s silver-mining boom, Chama’s highlights today include the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. This narrow-gauge steam train makes a truly spectacular 64-mile (103-km) daily trip over the Cumbres Pass and through the Toltec Gorge into Colorado, with views of the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountains. Traveling at a top speed of 7 miles (12 km) per hour, you’ll have ample time to take in the beautiful scenery.

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Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad

Hwy 17 # Late May–mid-Oct: 7:30am–6pm daily cumbrestoltec.com

Experience Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico

Georgia O’Keeffe

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Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) enjoyed both critical and popular acclaim for her paintings, which, either as studies of single blooms or the sun-washed landscapes of the Southwest, are universally loved. Wisconsin-born and raised, she studied art in Chicago and New York but fell in love with the light of New Mexico. O’Keeffe bought an old adobe in Abiquiu and created art that brought the beauty of the state to national attention.

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