sandstone spire

Abiquiu is the embodiment of New Mexico's claim to the term “Land of Enchantment.” Large vistas filled with mesas and buttes of multi-colored sandstone formations are what this valley is made of. The Rio Chama flows through the center of the valley and was dammed in the mid 1960's to form Abiquiu Lake. The Abiquiu Land Grant is actually east of where these photos were taken and, while very fertile and well populated, is not as striking as this area. In the middle of the highly colored rock zone is the Ghost Ranch, former home of Georgia O'Keefe and present-day conference center owned by the Presbyterian Church.

In the 1730's, Abiquiu was the 3rd largest settlement in New Mexico. And Georgia O'Keefe lived here from 1949 unti she died in 1986. Other than the gorgeous contryside and Abiquiu Lake, the biggest tourist draw these days is the annual Abiquiu Studio Tour, conducted every year on the Columbus Day weekend.

Crossing Abiquiu Dam and heading southwest leads into Coyote and eventually to Cuba, on the western side of the Jemez Mountains. West of the Ghost Ranch, a Forest Service road heads south and then west towards the Rio Chama Wilderness Area, ending near the Monastery in the Desert. Just before exiting the valley on the way to Tierra Amarilla is the Echo Amphitheatre, a natural formation in the sandstone (right next to the spire shown here at the left).

Looking at these photos (which can't possibly do Abiquiu justice), it's easy to see why this area is a major artists' mecca: imagine how these colors vary with the sun's position and with moving cloud cover. And under a full moon...