The area of Abiquiu has so much to see and do that we didn’t have any spare time and we still didn’t see everything.
One of the most popular attractions in the area is Ghost Ranch which was a dude ranch in the early 1930s and where artist Georgia O’Keefe rented property and then eventually purchased a property to spend her days painting. The ranch is now owned by the Presbyterian Church and used as a retreat and education center. It is open to the public and provides a Visitors Center and Gift Shop, a dinning hall, a campground, an archaeology museum and a paleontology museum, hiking trails, horseback riding, and several O’Keefe tours. It is a beautiful area.
Just north of Ghost Ranch by about 4 miles is Echo Amphitheater which is a natural large rock formation where 10 Navajos were killed during the “Long Walk” of 1864. You can still hear their cries echoing through the walls of the rocks. There is also a primitive campground located on the premises.
Hwy 155 – Dar Al Islam Mosque
Running parallel to the town of Abiquiu is dirt/gravel Hwy 155 where the Dar Al Islam Mosque is located. We decided to drive out there one day and explore. We eventually found the mosque but it was closed.> Luckily we chanced upon the Plaza Blanca. located on the Dar Al Islam land, which are wonderful rock formations that can be explored due to the generosity of the mosque.
Hwy 151 – Monastery of Christ in the Desert
About 7 miles north of Abiquiu Lake is Hwy 151 which meanders along the Rio Chama river about 13 miles to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert where the road dead-ends. They invite guests to visit their grounds, gift shop, and chapel.
The drive to the monastery is along a beautiful narrow dirt/gravel road. On the way are two small Santa Fe National Forest dispersed camping areas along the river called Oak Point and Whirlpool. Further on, about 12 miles from the main highway, is the Rio Chama Campground. All 3 areas provide nice sites and some sites are along the banks of the river. The major problem is driving the road in a big rig but with smaller rigs and nice weather it would be a fantastic place to camp.
Bandelier National Monument
Bandelier National Monument is a little over an hour drive from Abiquiu Lake and has hiking trails and cliff dwellings to visit. To access Frijoles Canyon where the main visitor center and dwellings are located you must take a free 25-minute shuttle bus from the town of White Rock which is just a few miles from Los Alamos. The Visitor Center at White Rock even has a small RV park with hookups which makes for easy visiting of Bandelier.
After you enter Bandelier National Monument at Frijoles Canyon there is another Visitor’s Center with a gift shop, a cafe, picnic tables, and access to several hiking trails along with the trail to the cliff dwellings. This area is the most visited area of the park. It includes the Main Loop trail which is wheel chair accessible in some parts.
There is another trail called the Alcove House trail where you can hike along the riverfront trail along the floor of Frijoles Canyon to a cliff dwelling that is accessible by climbing 4 ladders about 140 feet up. The trail to the Alcove House is flat and has been damaged by flash flooding in recent years but it is accessible.
Los Alamos is a town not to be missed. Not only is it steeped in nuclear research history but the drive up the mesa is breathtaking. The Bradbury Science Museum (free) is well worth a visit. Be sure to allocate more than a few hours as there is lots to see here.
Hwy 100 – Santa Fe National Forest
Forest Road 100 heads south from Youngsville, New Mexico and heads up in elevation to several areas of dispersed camping. We had met a man at Riana Campground who was headed up there to camp for awhile and he invited us up to visit. The drive up is well worth the time and the camping areas, which are mainly used by hunters during hunting season, are situated on beautiful alpine meadows. I fell in love with the area. The only problem is it is about 9 miles up in elevation to just over 9,200 feet on a narrow and sometimes windy dirt road. Can you say Earthroamer?
The town of Abiquiu is quite small but offers a service station, a general store, two churches, a residential area, a few art galleries, and a few inns. The tour of Georgia O’Keefe’s Abiquiu property starts from the center of town.