Española is located at the border of Rio Arriba and Santa Fe Counties. It sits right between Santa Fe and Taos and is 30 minutes away from Los Alamos. The city itself is framed by the hundreds-of-years-old pueblos, Santa Clara and Ohkay Owingeh.
Española was the initial capital of the first European settlement in the United States. It was initially named San Gabriel and settled in 1598 in the Yunque Unique Pueblo near the Rio Grande and the Rio Chama. It was in Española that the first Spanish settlement of Nuevo Mexico was arranged at the end of the Camino Real trade route, traversing the way from Mexico to Ohkay Owingeh.
The Española Valley supports and honors cultural diversity, blending Hispanic and Native American roots to create a rich tapestry of traditions and unique cuisine. It seamlessly blends the old and the new, with ancient pueblo architecture, colonial churches, historic cultural sites, new and old Mexican restaurants, and modern breweries and wineries.
Most of the interest in Española resides in what’s around it rather than in the town itself. However, the area can be photogenic under good lighting conditions; Ansel Adams’ famous “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941,” considered by some the most delicate photographic black-and-white shot ever made, was taken here in Española.
Learn more about the people of Anasazi and their culture by visiting the Puye Cliff Dwellings. Pick from walking or driving tours around the Harvey House witness Pueblo Indian dwellings and ruins along the side of the cliff. Or, visit the top of the mesa, where the Tewa people once resided. See any of these locations separately or sign up for a combination tour of all three.
The Plaza de Española is the doorway to Española’s history. The plaza harbors two museums. First, the Bond House Museum, initially home to Frank Bond in the early 1900s. Second is the Misión Museum, a replica of a Spanish church built originally in San Gabriel in 1598. The Bond House artifacts include housewares, tools, and other practical things. The Misión Museum holds religious artwork and the 14 coats-of-arms of the original families that settled in the town in 1598.
The Santa Cruz Lake Recreation Area is situated approximately 13 miles east of Española in Chimayo. The park has no less than six miles of hiking trails, two campgrounds, and boat ramps leading into the lake for motorized and non-motorized boating. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout and German brown trout; locals and tourists may fish on the lake as long as they have their licenses. Anglers must limit themselves to six fish each fishing in Santa Cruz Lake.
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