Santa Fe & Taos, New Mexico
Art, History & Culture of the Southwest
The rugged beauty of New Mexico’s northern mountains and high deserts inspired artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Joseph Henry Sharp, and Victor Higgins—a Hoosier, to paint and live there. This trip to the Southwest captures the majesty and charm of two of their favorite cities—Santa Fe and Taos. Tour museums and historic adobe churches, gallery hop, and eat delicious local cuisine while staying at two award-winning resorts. As Santa Fe’s oldest hotel, La Fonda on the Plaza has set the standard since the early 1900s. Located in the historic heart of the city across from the 1887 St. Francis Cathedral Basilica, this former “Harvey House” has long been the destination for discriminating travelers. The legendary Santa Fe Trail ends at La Fonda, signaling to travelers that, wherever their journey began, they’ve finally arrived.
Taos, tucked into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, has attracted artists since the late 1800s because of its beautiful setting and dramatic light. Today, it’s still full of artists, galleries, and travelers who want to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and the relaxed, creative vibe. There is an interesting mixture of three cultures — Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo. Stay at El Monte Sagrado Resort in Taos, listed on Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s “Top 25 Resorts in the Southwest.” Enjoy a guided tour of Taos Pueblo, where Native Americans have lived continuously for over a thousand years, and the Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu while based here.
This itinerary covers areas of higher altitudes and includes activities where moderate walking, possibly on uneven terrain, is required.
Sun, May 14: Fly to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Spend time exploring Old Town Albuquerque on your own before heading to Santa Fe. Check in to your home for the next three nights, La Fonda on the Plaza, centrally located on the historic plaza! Relax in the luxurious atmosphere and take in the unique Southwestern art collection. Enjoy a Welcome Dinner with your fellow travelers at the hotel. (Meal: Dinner)
Mon, May 15: In the morning, visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. O’Keeffe’s paintings reflected her love of the New Mexican high desert — animal bones, dramatic cliffs, and badlands; other paintings at the museum include some of her large-scale flowers and New York cityscapes as well as art of some of her contemporaries. Next, explore Santa Fe on a guided tour. The city, though much smaller than Albuquerque, is New Mexico’s state capital. Meet your local guide and begin with a historic walking tour in the Plaza and a visit to the famous Loretto Chapel with the mysterious floating staircase, before continuing by motorcoach down the Old Santa Fe Trail, passing museum hill, Canyon Road galleries, and the capitol building. Spend the rest of the day at your leisure exploring more of Santa Fe. (B)
Tue, May 16: Today’s locally guided excursion will take you to Bandelier National Monument, 33,000 acres of rugged but beautiful canyon and mesa country with evidence of human presence going back over 11,000 years. Marvel at the dwellings carved into the soft rock cliffs, and the petroglyphs that pay tribute to the early days of a culture that still survives in the surrounding communities. Next, transfer into Los Alamos, the “secret city on a hill” that is recognized in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. Follow in the footsteps of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the laboratory’s first director, and Nobel Prize winners like Enrico Fermi, Emilo Segrè and Richard Feyman as you are enlightened on a narrated tour. See firsthand the peaceful canyons, mesas and mountains that served as an ideal place for workers to escape the pressure of their jobs. In fact, workers and scientists brought their families here to what the locals still refer to as “the hill,” and created a sense of community on the isolated mesa top. In January of 1943, this secret city had just 1,500 residents, but by the war’s end, the population boomed to an estimated 8,200! Take a lunch break in town before visiting the Bradbury Science Museum for a further look into the past and learn about current research projects. (B)
Wed, May 17: Check out of the hotel and depart for Taos, located 70 miles north of Santa Fe. Take the High Road and stop in Chimayo, a small village that is famous for the weavings of the Ortega and Trujillo families. It is also known as the home of El Santuario de Chimayo, an early 19th-century church that has been the destination of countless pilgrims who attribute it with miraculous powers of healing. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before continuing to St. Francis of Assisi Church for a chance to explore its history. This historic church, four miles south of Taos in Rancho de Taos, dates from 1772 and was memorialized by such artists as Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams. Marvel, as they did, at its unique massive adobe and masonry architecture. Late afternoon, check in for two nights at El Monte Sagrado Resort, a serene oasis just a few blocks from town. The balance of the day is yours to relax and indulge. (B,L)
Thu, May 18: In the morning, visit Taos Pueblo on the northern outskirts of town. These two amazing five-story adobe structures, in the shadow of Taos Mountain, were built between 1000 and 1450 A.D. and have been inhabited for over 1,000 years. Approximately 150 people still live within the Pueblo full time, and privately-owned shops and galleries throughout the village support the numerous local artists. Afterwards, depart for the remote town of Abiquiu for lunch and a visit to the Ghost Ranch—made famous by artist Georgia O’Keeffe, and where she painted many of her best-known landscapes. Stops are made to take in the fresh air, beauty, and perspectives that O’Keeffe found so inspiring. Your guide will provide fascinating stories of the artist’s life as well as the history of Ghost Ranch. On the way back to Taos, take a short jaunt to see the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, located just outside of town. The river runs 650 feet below the bridge in a spectacular, immense, steep rock canyon. Return to Taos and enjoy a Farewell Dinner. (B,L,D)
Fri, May 19: Transfer to Albuquerque and fly home. (B)
La Fonda On the Plaza, Santa Fe. Famed Santa Fe architect John Gaw Meem and celebrated Southwest designer Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter collaborated on the hotel’s distinctive appearance which had once been a Harvey House, creating the friendly ambiance that has made La Fonda on the Plaza a beloved landmark for generations. Highlights: in-room coffee/tea maker • complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access • restaurant, lounge and bar • outdoor hot tub • fitness center • spa.
El Monte Sagrado Resort, Taos. Mountains and desert surround this modern pueblo-style resort that prides itself on eco-conscious luxury. Highlights: in-room coffee/tea maker, refrigerator, microwave • complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access • 2 restaurants • bar/lounge • indoor splash pool and sauna • fitness center • spa.
*Price subject to change due to fuel surcharge.