While traveling in New Mexico during this past summer, after driving for the better part of two days, then resting and relaxing for two more days, we were in the mood for a bit of activity. As we are a hiking family, we quickly decided a hike was in order and our son, Ryan, who has been itching to do more climbing for the past several years, chose a hike near the Santa Fe area which involved several caves and other interesting geological components.
Tent Rocks Canyon Trail wanders along a narrow slice of land at the edge of the massive Jemez Volcano. In some places the canyon walls are 200 feet high, yet a child’s arms can span the width wall to wall. It did sound like an interesting place to visit. It was noted to be an easy three mile hike which would not be too taxing as we had not fully acclimated to the altitude yet as well and needed to remain mindful of that.
So it was that on the morning of July 23rd we headed southwest from our home base in Taos, eagerly anticipating the chance to get out and stretch our legs a bit. Most of our journey was via interstate, but eventually we had to turn off onto lesser roads to complete the trip. After traveling approximately 20 miles at somewhat slower than interstate speeds, we are within 5 miles of our trailhead, only to encounter a sign indicating that the Tent Rocks Monument was closed due to the Los Alamos wildfire. And, not only was it closed, but the monument area was being used as a staging area for all of the firefighters coming into the area from other parts of the state and other states to help fight the fire. Way to be oblivious! We knew there was a wildfire in Los Alamos, but didn’t realize how close we were coming to that area when driving over to our hike.
Needing a plan B, we decided to head into Santa Fe, “the city different,” for the day. One of our favorite haunts in the city is the former Governor’s Palace. It is here that Native Americans from the various tribes and pueblos near Santa Fe gather every morning to sell their wares. For anyone looking for beautiful authentic jewelry, pottery, fetishes and the like, there is no better place to shop. Comparison is easy and bartering is the name of the game. The deals and quality cannot be beat—even by the finest galleries in the state. While on this day we did not find anything we couldn’t live without, this is the place we come, whether to browse, as we did on this day when our plans had gone awry, or for some serious shopping. Even when you are not buying, the atmosphere of the place is like no other.
The variety of merchandise is amazing. Each pueblo has its own unique style of pottery. Each turquoise mine has a unique color and there is a great deal of variation. When you are buying at the Governor’s Palace, you are likely speaking with the craftsman or artisan who created your piece, or a close relative. Most will be able to give you details about the creation of the item and location of the materials from which it is made. It is a truly unique shopping experience! And not a bad way to spend a day when our hiking plans were interrupted! On previous trips, I have come away from the palace with several pieces of pottery, multiple pairs of earrings, numerous bracelets, for myself and others, and a necklace which continues to be a favorite.
Read more about New Mexico campgrounds and things to do in New Mexico.