Not just desert, down New Mexico way
Breathtaking landscapes combine with ancient pueblos and art, burning effigies and a bloody past for an unforgettable trip
SUCH PLEASURES are just a taste of what New Mexico has to offer. At Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, 56km south of Santa Fe, prehistoric desert sculptures are the result of volcanic eruptions seven million years ago.
For a Wild West town experience, Madrid (pronounced Madrid) is 40km south of Santa Fe on the Turquoise trail. The town was almost deserted in the late 1970s, when it was rescued as an artists’ community. The film Wild Hogs was made here in 2006. Although overrun by bikers, aficionados of the film and New Agers, it still has a good art scene – notably in the the Johnsons of Madrid Gallery, showing the work of a wide collection of New Mexico artists, including a couple of Irish residents.
If you arrive in Sante Fe in September, you might be lucky enough to catch Zozobra festivities. Iintroduced in 1924, it became part of the older Santa Fe Fiesta, which has been running since 1712. On the opening night of the fiesta, locals gather to send their worries up in flames with the burning of Old Man Gloom, known by his Spanish name Zozobra, a 15m high figure looming in the dark over the gathered crowd.
He is stuffed with the miseries of everyone in town, all of them written and handed in over the weeks leading up to the event. It’s a wild and wonderful evening, allowing Santa Feans face another year worry-free. You too, if you happen to be there.
How to . . . New Mexico
Where to Stay
La Posada de Santa Fe (laposadadesantafe.com ) Two restaurants, a bar, art gallery, spa and 405sq ft king-sized beds. Doubles $329 (€243)
The Inn of the Turquoise Bear (turquoisebear.com ) Great breakfasts. Doubles $185 (€137)
Santa Fe Sage Inn (santafesageinn.com ) Much awarded, southwestern style rooms good breakfast, pool. Double $99 (€73)
Where to Eat
Geronimo, 724 Canyon Road. SF 87501. (geronimorestaurant.com ) Serving American (New) food, the place to eat in SF. Elk tenderloin, tuna tartar and caramelized banana cream pie.
La Plazuela de La Fonda, 100 E San Francisco St. 87501. (lafondasantafe.com ) Flamboyant décor, set in historic Santa Fe hotel. Eat enchiladas, chili relleno and tamales.
Tia’s Cocina, 125 Washington Ave, SF 87501 (HotelChimayo.com ) Fresh Chimayo red and green chili sauces, grilled rib-eye steak marinated in Chili Caribe. The real thing, beautifully cooked.
Where to Go
Visit Museum Hill and the Museum of International Folk Art (internationalfolkart.org). The Museum of Fine Arts (museumofnewmexico.org ) in downtown Santa Fe has more than 20,000 exhibits, including work by Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams and Elias Rivera.
The Georgia O’Keeffe Home and Studio 21120 Highway 84, Abiquiu NM 87510. Bookings required (okeeffemuseum.org).