Some Shots on a Return Trip to New Mexico

I had a conference this past week in Santa Fe and went a day early so I could drive up to Taos.  I traveled up the High Road, stopping in Las Trampas to visit  the San José de Gracia Church in Las Trampas, New Mexico. Built between 1760 and 1776, San José de Gracia is a National Historic Landmark.

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Along the High Road to Taos, south of Chimayo
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San José de Gracia in Las Trampas


Gravesite, San José de Gracia Church, Las Trampas, New Mexico

Last May, I shot several photos along the top of the Rio Grande Gorge, northwest of Taos. On this trip, I wanted to get down to the base of the gorgeand found a road leading down to the John Dunn Bridge. The area is quite popular with fishers and paddlers. It is also the site of hot springs that attracts locals. Here are photos taken around the bridge, as well as one photo back at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.

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The John Dunn Bridge near Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico

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The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

The Enchanted Circle is an 85 mile trip around Mount Wheeler, northeast of Taos. The road rises up to an elevation of 9,820 feet at Bobcat pass. Here are three photos I shots along the way. The first is of three pine trees reflected in Fawn Lakes near Red River. The second is of aspen trees that had lost their leaves, new Bobcat Pass. The third is a view of snow capped Mount Wheeler, looking through the entrance to a ranch north of Eagles Nest, New Mexico.

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Three Pines on Fawn Lakes


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Aspens near Bobcat Pass on the Enchanted Circle
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Mount Wheeler

The Rio Grande Gorge

Just a few miles northwest of Taos, the Rio Grande Gorge splits the flat landscape. I visited early in the morning of each of the days that we were in Taos. I walked along the Rim Trail and out onto the bridge that spans the gorge, 565 feet above the Rio Grande River. It is the seventh highest bridge in the United States. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

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On my second day along the Rim Trail I came upon a herd of adolescent Big Horn Sheep. They were not spooked by me and followed me along the trail for a mile or so. They even took an interest in my camera tripod.

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The next day, while shooting photos from the bridge, I saw a herd of six adult Big Horns. In my excitement, I raced off the bridge to capture a photo, but neglected to pay attention to my camera settings, which were set for the shot of the canyon. Nonetheless, with the magic of Lightroom and RAW files, I was able to salvage a couple of shots to at least back up my story that I saw adult Big Horn Sheep.


Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo is the northernmost pueblo in New Mexico. People have resided in Taos Pueblo for over 1,000 years. Today, four to six families live regularly in the pueblo, which has no running water or electricity. Other families return to live in the pueblo during special occasions. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

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A tour of the pueblo begins at San Geronimo (St. Jerome) Chapel, which was completed in 1850. Spanish missionaries brought Catholicism to the Taos Pueblo in 1540, forcing them to give up their ancestral religion. Today, the people of Taos Pueblo are predominantly Catholic, but also continue to practice their ancestral religious rites.

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A Catholic church was first erected at the Pueblo in 1619. It was destroyed in the Pueblo Revolt agains the Spanish in 1680. A new church was erected after the return of the Spanish. That church was bombed by U.S. troops in 1847 during the Taos Revolt, an uprising against occupation by the United States.  Over 100 people, including women and children, who had taken sanctuary in the church were killed.  The remains of the original church are in the cemetery at the Pueblo.

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There are two main structures, Hlauuma (north house) and Hlaukwima (south house). It is estimated that portions of these structures were first built between 1000 AD and 1450 AD, making them the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in the country.

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Hlauuma (north house)

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San Francisco de Asis

San Francisco de Asis, in Rancho de Taos, was built in the late 1700s. The church is gorgeous and has been the subject of work by Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe and hundreds of other artists. It is such a beautiful building. I spent two hours taking photos as the sun rose in the sky as the light shifted over the curves and angles of the church. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

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The Taos County Courthouse Murals

The old Taos County Courthouse on Taos Plaza was completed in 1934. That year, the Works Progress Administration commissioned four artists – Emil Bisttram, Ward Lockwood, Bert Phillips and Victor Higgins – to paint ten murals on the walls of the court room. In 1994 an eleventh mural was added by New Mexican artist Frederico Virgil, who restored the other murals. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

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The old Taos Courthouse
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“Moses the Law Giver,” by Victor Higgins


Ernest Blumenschein was a New York who convinced another artist, Bert Phillips, to join him in a trip to Mexico.  The two took the train to Denver where they purchased a wagon and supplies for their trip.  After their wagon broke down outside of Taos, the two decided to terminate their adventure and remain in Taos. While Blumenschein would return to New York and also to Paris, Phillips remained in Taos. Blumenschein joined him in the summers.  Together they founded the Taos Society of Artists.  Blumenschein’s home is today a museum. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

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The Harwood Museum of Art’s mission ” to collect, preserve, exhibit and interpret the arts, especially those created in, inspired by, or relevant to northern New Mexico.” The museum was originally the home of artists Burt and Elizabeth Harwood, who established it as the town’s only library and then began using it to mount exhibitions.

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Mabel Dodge Luhan was a wealthy patron of the arts who moved to Taos in 1917.  She created a writers colony, playing host to D.H. Lawrence, Willa Cather, Robinson Jeffers, Aldous Huxley, among others.  Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams and other artists were also guests at her 12 acre estate.  Today, the estate is a conference center and inn.

The Taos Art Museum is located in the former home of Nicolai Fechin. Nicolai Fechin was an artist who immigrated from the Soviet Union who settled in Taos in 1927. He bought a small home and added multiple additions. He did all the woodwork in the home and the studio. The house was given to the Taos Art Society by Fechin’s daughter and today houses the Taos Art Museum.

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The Fechin Studio.

Along the High Road to Taos

The “High Road” runs from Santa Fe to Taos.  Along the way, you pass through several small towns, including Las Trampas, Truchas, Cordova, and Chimayo, the home to the Santuario de Chimayo.  The church, which was constructed in 1816, attracts over 300,000 visitors each year, 30,000 during Holy week.  Many of the visitors are drawn to Chimayo because they believe the “holy dirt” has the power to heal. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

The High Road climbs into the Sangre de Cristo mountains as you approach Taos.  The sight of the snow-capped mountains is exhilarating.



Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument, near Los Alamos, New Mexico, protects over 33,000 acres in Frijoles Canyon. People have been in the Canyon for 11,000 years. Bandelier was home to Ancestral Pueblo communities that built their homes in the walls of the canyon. As you hike through the canyon you see the remains of the dwellings, the gardens, and the petroglyphs of the residents. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Alcove House is a cave 140 feet above the floor of Frijoles Canyon. The cave is accessed by four ladders and numerous stone stairs. In Alcove House is a reconstructed kiva, a circular, underground structure that would have been used in ceremonies by the Ancestral Pueblo people.

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Santa Fe

Santa Fe was founded by Mexican colonialists in 1610 with the establishment of the San Miguel Mission. It is the oldest city that serves as a state capital, and the state capital at the highest elevation, at 7,199 feet.

San Miquel Chapel is the oldest church in the United States.  The original church was built in 1598 to serve a small congregation of soldiers, laborers, and native people.  The current church building was built around 1610.  A portion was destroyed in the Pueblo Revolt of 1640. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

The Palace of the Governors sits on the north side of the central plaza in Old Santa Fe. The Mexican government began construction of the Palace in 1610, making it the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States. In the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Mexicans were expelled and the Pueblo people occupied the Palace. Archaeological exploration at the site shows that that the Pueblo people did extensive modifications to the Palace to convert it to the traditional Pueblo style. When Mexican rule was restored, the building once again served as the seat of the government. Today, the building is a museum, well worth visiting along with the adjacent history museum.

The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, constructed between 1869 and 1886 in the Romanesque Revival style.

The Lensic Performing Arts Center, with its pseudo Moorish archtecture, completed in 1831.

Art galleries line the street on Canyon Road

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

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The Loretto Chapel was constructed beginning in 1872 as the convent chapel to be named Our Lady of Light Chapel. The “Miraculous Stair” in the Loretto Chapel. Legend has it that the circular staircase, which is constructed with no nails, was completed by St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters.

The Santuario de Guadalupe in Santa Fe, built in 1777, is the oldest, still-standing shrine built in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the United States.

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Along the road to the Santa Fe ski area (10,350 feet base elevation) in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

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The Turquoise Trail, which runs from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, is a lovely road that passes through old mining communities. Just off the trail near Sandia Crest is the Tinkertown Museum, a wonderful folk art collection. (Click on photos to enlarge.)Tinker Town-7035

The museum started out as a hobby of Ross Ward, who carved or collected everything in the museum over a 40-year period. Mr. Ward died in 1998, but the museum is carried on by his wife and children. Learn more at