Northern New Mexico, in particular Abiquiú, is known as Georgia O’Keeffe country because the world-renowned artist spent so much of time depicting the surrounding landscapes in her own, distinctive style.
The artist captured red-rimmed cliffs, startling geologic formations and breath-robbing beauty on canvas.
So it’s no wonder that the prolific artist called Abiquiú home for much of the year.
And her many fans thoroughly enjoy visiting her home and studio where many of her most beloved works were created.
“People are amazed,” said Agapita Lopez, director of Abiquiú historic properties (okeeffemuseum.org). “They are better able to understand Ms. O’Keeffe’s artwork after visiting her home. It shows her home is just as beautiful as her artwork.”
The tour includes the gardens, the kitchen, studio space and the courtyard with the notorious black door made famous in so many images.
“And you can see the beautiful views that she had outside of the home,” Lopez said.
But true aficionados may want to wait until Lopez leads her tours from June 2 to Nov. 10. Lopez worked closely with O’Keeffe in her latter days. Lopez is a third generation O’Keeffe employee. Her grandfather was the artist’s gardener and her mother was the housekeeper.
Then there is the evening, behind-the-scenes tour, which includes a peak behind the black door, “and other little areas that are behind the scenes, like the fallout shelter,” Lopez said. The June 1-Sept. 9 tours are only on Wednesday and Fridays.
This time of year, the area has a stark beauty, as well, said Austin Kuhlman, lead ranger at the Abiquiú Dam (www.emnrd.state.nm.us/spd/boatingweb/abiquiulake.html).
“The hiking this time is a big draw,” he said. “The landscape is pretty all the time, but it’s particularly pretty with snow on the surrounding mountains.”
What’s more, Kuhlman said, the fishing is probably better now than during other parts of the year.
“There’s excellent trout fishing on the Rio Chama below the dam,” he said. “This time of the year the water is clear. During the summer, we’re delivering a bunch of water for irrigation so the flow is higher and the water is murky.”
This is also a great time of year to check out the wintering birds, Kuhlman said.
“Birders tend to love it up here this time of year,” he said. “We have a lot of water fowl. One of the interesting perks in the water is the migrating water fowl will use the lake and river habitat. As spring starts to approach, you never know what you’re going to see around the water. Bald eagles winter here; that’s always a pretty cool one.”
The Ghost Ranch has a wealth of outdoor adventure opportunities, spokeswoman Linda Seebantz said.
“There are so many options,” she said. “It’s a great place. There’s a silence out there that is just is amazing.”
Hiking, horseback trail riding and simply communing with the overwhelming vistas are what make Ghost Ranch so special, Seebantz said.
With overnight lodging, Ghost Ranch also makes a nice base for exploring the rest of the area, she said.
And the one of the first stops should be the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, which was designed by the noted designer George Nakashima. It’s set in the wild Chama Canyon.
“The setting is spectacular and it’s a world-famous church,” Prior Christian Leisy said.
Some of the monastery’s gardens and grounds may be visited, and the visitor’s center has an array of artwork for sale.
There are even overnight accommodations so those who are interested “may share in the lifestyle,” Leisy said.
And for those who are planning a trip to the area a little later in the year may be interested in visiting the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm (purpleadobelavenderfarm.com).
“We have tours where we talk about the history of the farm, when we started and what it’s all about,” owner Elizabeth Inman said. “And we also have self-guided tours through the fields.”
There’s a walk-through labyrinth on site and a you-cut-it field so people may cut their own samples, she said.
A small cafe on site also offers such delicacies as lavender tea and lavender gelato.
“It’s very pretty,” Inman said. “We try to keep a lot of activities. It’s right on the river so you sit under the trees and relax or visit our Zen nursery garden.”