Follow the History to Chama
Lakes • Wildwest • Steam Trains
Chama is a quaint town near the Colorado border. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is the area's major attraction.
1. ABIQUIU, a tiny town on a bend of the Rio Chama, is remembered as the home of celebrated American artist Georgia O'Keeffe. Visitors will appreciate the inspiration she drew from the surrounding landscape. The Abiquiu Artist Studio Tour is in October. Call (505) 685-4829 for information. Just beyond Abiquiu, a left turn on NM 96 takes you to Abiquiu Lake and dam. This is a popular fishing spot. Many dinosaur skeletons have been found at the base of the cliffs nearby.
2. GHOST RANCH. The Ghost Ranch Conference Center is home to the Florence Hawley Museum of Anthropology and the Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology. For information call (505) 685-4333. There are displays of early human artifacts and dinosaur fossils found in the area. Points of interest. Echo Canyon Amphitheater, is a large natural 'auditorium' carved by erosion from the surrounding sandstone cliffs. Short hiking trails, grills and sheltered picnic tables make this a great place to stop. Christ in the Desert Monastery is located 13 miles west of this point; access is by dirt road. The Benedictine Brothers welcome visitors for retreats; reservations are required for weekends or extended stays.
3. TIERRA AMARILLA. This picturesque town's name means 'yellow earth.' There is an excellent weaving shop offering the handiwork of many accomplished local artisans at Los Ojos. Points of interest. Approximately 14 miles west on NM 112 is El Vado Lake State Park. This is a popular venue for boating, water-skiing and fishing, as well as cross-country skiing and ice fishing in the winter. There are good camping and picnic sites, plus a marina for boat-launching. Approximately eight miles west on NM 95 lies Heron Lake State Park. Heron Lake follows a 'quiet lake' policy--no motorboats of any kind. There are boat slips and ramps, camping and picnic sites and a visitor center. For information call (505) 588-7470. The 5.5-mile Rio Chama Trail connects these lakes.
4. CHAMA. Just nine miles south of the Colorado border, this old-time western town is gaining popularity as a year round recreation area. Chama Days in August feature an authentic wild- west rodeo. For information call (800) 477-0149. Point of interest. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad originates at the depot in downtown Chama. This narrow-gauge steam train operates daily from June to mid-October. Day-long 64-mile roundtrip excursions are available, with the northern terminus at Antonito, Colorado. Reservations should be made well in advance. Call (800) RAIL-428.