Santa Fe, NM Sunday May 22
It isn’t just Sedona AZ that has red rocks.
This was a travel day; a day to return to Santa Fe via a new road, exploring northern western and north central New Mexico. The area is still arid, but we drove from high elevation desert to high elevation almost forested land. We left Farmington and continued almost due east to Chama on US 64, usually less than 20 miles from the Colorado border. From Chama the drive was southerly on US 64 and then US 84, through a mix of privately owned land, Indian reservations, and national forests.
The oil and gas drilling continued until Chama and then pretty much disappeared. Horse and cattle raising were big users of the land, with a much heavier proportion of horse raising than we had seen previously.
We believed the scenery to be worthy of a state designated scenic byway, although it is not so labeled. As we drove east, the valleys were wide and green. The mountains started having actual trees on them, not just rock and scrub brush. In the distance, we could see mountains with snow still on them; usually the snow-covered mountains were in Colorado although north of Santa Fe there was still a bit of snow on the top of the Sange de Cristo mountains.
Towns are small to non-existent. The largest two were Chama at a population of 1,000 and Dulce at 2,500. Chama is one end of the Cumbres and Toltec steam train ride that is a round trip into southern Colorado through the mountains. Dulce is the tribal headquarters of the Jicarilla Apache reservation.
The top scenery though was around Abiquiu. Some of you may recognize the name as the location made famous in many of Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings. O’Keeffe (1887-1986) came here in 1934, returning for many summers, and then moved here permanently in 1949. Ghost Ranch was her initial living location.
Ghost Ranch dates back to the 1766 land grant of the Spanish King, with large tracts of land given to individuals to encourage settlement. Land was divided, sold, inherited, lost in poker games and today the community recognizes this mixed settlement of Native American, Spanish, Mexican Indian, Portuguese, and Anglo people.
O’Keeffe came here when Ghost Ranch was a dude ranch, catering to wealthy and famous Easterners. She returned over summers, eventually buying two properties reflecting summer and winter homes. Today it is a retreat and educational center run by the Presbyterian Church which preserves the land from development.
In Abiquiu the red rock formations jump out at you. Yes, yellow and white cliffs exist also, sometimes right alongside the vibrant red cliffs and all of them topped by a bright blue sky. We stopped at Ghost Ranch and spent time wandering around and taking pictures. We could have gone hiking on numerous trails, but the drive from Farmington was once again slow and we ended up spending the full day driving and viewing the sights from Farmington to Santa Fe. Thus, most of today’s post is pictures.
Ed and Chris