With native american, Mexican and European roots, a thriving arts scene and intergalactic mysteries to boot, New Mexico brims with intriguing, culturally rich diversions.
Following are 10 great ways groups can capture the region’s eclectic culture.
San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, Taos
Located just south of Taos in the remote and historic Ranchos de Taos district, the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church is the most painted and photographed house of worship in the entire U.S., according to Jeanne Kitzman, tourism coordinator for the Town of Taos.
And while Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams are among the many to capture the iconic edifice’s exterior, the true beauty and mystery of the structure lies within. In contrast to the rather stark, windowless exterior, the church’s inner realms impress visitors with its massive walls, beautiful adobe, and an enchanting painting with enigmatic elements. The unique look is considered a Mission precursor to the American Southwest style.
Crafted by Henri Ault in 1896, The Shadow of the Cross—in regular light—presents a barefoot Christ at the Sea of Galilee. But in darkness, the portrait takes on a glowing light, and the distinct shadow of a cross appears over the left shoulder of Jesus’ profile. Ault was supposedly as taken aback as anyone to discover the mysterious illusion, and its cause remains unsolved to this day.
Services are still conducted at the church, and visitors can also drop by and explore with a nominal entry fee. A short video is presented every hour, and a handful of craft stores dot the surrounding square.
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos
Sprawling across more than 33,000 acres and three counties, Bandelier National Monument is a peerless portal into the state’s ancient culture and civilization. Preserving the homes of the ancestral Pueblo people of the region, the setting has been touched by human presence for more than 11,000 years.
Groups can hike designated trails, take in ancient cave dwellings and rock paintings, and even view wildlife ranging from bats to vultures to horned toads. A visitor center provides a nice overview of the site’s lengthy history through a short video and artifact collection, and campgrounds are also available for groups looking to rough it among some of America’s most ancient history.